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A Significant Chunk of Senate Republicans Are Seriously Challenging Trump Over Saudi Arabia

Politics Features Jamal Khashoggi
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In a surprising turn of events, the GOP is actually turning on Trump over his (lack of a) position on Jamal Khashoggi’s killing. Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have tried to assert that there is no way of knowing whether or not Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) played a role in the journalist’s brutal murder, but his party members have dissented following a classified Tuesday briefing from CIA Director Gina Haspel. According to Republican senators Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, of all people, the evidence tying the Saudi Crown Prince to the journalist’s killing is undeniable.

Graham went into explicit detail when confronted by reporters. He said you’d have to be “willfully blind” to ignore the evidence and that there is “zero chance” that MBS is innocent in the matter. Graham, who’s proven to be a staunch Trump supporter as of late, goes as far to say that he and his party members were purposefully mislead by Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis, who had previously said there was no “smoking gun.” Graham said that may be true, but there is certainly a “smoking bonesaw,” alluding to the murder weapon suspected to have killed Khashoggi.

He goes on, saying that his views on Saudi Arabia have totally changed, and that new votes will follow. Graham wants to designate Mohammed bin Salman as complicit in the journalist’s murder, stop arms sales to the country and now even opposes the Saudi war on Yemen. The latter is a hushed, but vicious issue making its way through congress. Thanks to some post-9/11 politics, the president can start a war whenever he wants without anyone’s approval (despite the constitution stating that congress has war powers), but Graham and 12 other Republicans are actually advancing a bill that threatens that legislation for the first time ever. If this trend continues, that power would revert back to congress, hopefully bringing an end to one of America’s most brutal wars. The move would punish both the president and the Crown Prince for their roles in killing or covering up the journalist’s murder.

Watch Graham’s full response to the briefing below.

Sen. Bob Corker’s comments were an equally scathing rebuke of Trump. He made a statement that MBS would be “convicted in 30 minutes,” if he went in front of jury and, again, pointed out that the difference between the CIA briefing and the Pompeo/Mattis briefing was like the “difference between darkness and sunshine,” per WaPo.

Sen. Rand Paul, meanwhile, went to Twitter to voice his opinion, smashing the caps lock to say “ENOUGH!” in regards to Saudi Arabia’s behavior. Whatever was revealed in that CIA briefing had to be irrefutable for so much of Trump’s senate supporters to lash out like this.

It’s not just important that the GOP is stepping into the light on this Saudi government-ordered killing. Obviously that’s a huge sign of progress, but an even more important takeaway is the fact that these senators say they feel purposefully mislead by a Republican administration, and have made a vote against its interests. Graham is quick to defend Pompeo and Mattis, calling them “good soldiers” in his statement, but he throws Trump under the bus. Graham asserts pretty blatantly that Trump himself is tied up in the killing to some extent. Regardless, his party members are sick of it, and a showdown between Trump and these senators seems inevitable.

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