Donald Trump and most of his national security team have worked diligently to bury the nearly unanimous global conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But “MBS,” as the Crown Prince is often called, may have overplayed his hand at the G20 summit last week when he and Russian President Vladimir Putin reveled in the fact that, hey, you really can get away with murder when a greedy amoral squish is running things in the U.S.
But their delight in mocking America’s feckless global leadership under Trump seems to have enraged even Republican Senators, who came out of a CIA briefing about the Khashoggi killing on Tuesday swinging. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham declared a “smoking saw” connecting MBS to the murder and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said a jury would convict the Crown Prince “in 30 minutes.”
Corker now says there’s now enough bipartisan momentum in the Senate to potentially pass a measure that would deal a major blow to the Crown Prince.
A bipartisan group of Senators including Republicans Corker, Graham, and Todd Young of Indiana along with Democrats Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Chris Murphy of Connecticut are weighing several measures that could involve some combination of withdrawing U.S. support from the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, ceasing arm sales to the Saudi regime, and officially blaming the Crown Prince for Khashoggi’s murder.
Corker hopes to pass a measure through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee early next week in order to proceed to a floor vote, which would then compete for floor time with a bill to keep the government funded. With time running out before the end of the session, it’s possible both things could be done but hurdles remain.
“There is a way to land both of those products by the end of the year,” Sen. Murphy told CNN. “We are trying to figure out how to send the strongest message without blowing up the Senate floor for a week.”