Lindsey Graham: Giving Saudis a Pass on Khashoggi Murder ‘Encourages’ More Assassinations

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that he warned President Donald Trump against giving Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “a pass” for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, arguing that it would “encourage” similar assassinations. Graham, who said he spoke with Trump recently about the increasingly fraught U.S.-Saudi relationship, said the president was “trying to preserve the strategic relationship” between the two countries. Last week, Trump largely absolved the crown prince and cast doubt on the CIA’s reported assessment that the de facto Saudi leader had ordered the killing of Khashoggi. Graham said the Saudi government should be punished, and he has proposed legislation that would, among other moves, cut off U.S. arms sales to the kingdom. “I want the strategic relationship to be beneficial. And it’s not beneficial if the person that represents that strategic relationship was complicit in the murder of a journalist, violating every norm,” Graham said. “If you don’t draw a line here, where do you draw the line?” He and other senators have asked the White House to have CIA Director Gina Haspel brief them on Wednesday about the situation with Saudi Arabia, but the Trump administration is only planning on sending Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

—Andrew Desiderio