Graham pledges to 'sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia' over missing journalist
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Senate GOP eyes probes into 2016 issues 'swept under the rug' Top Senate Judiciary Dem asks Barr to hand over full Mueller report by April 1 MORE (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said he would "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia" while blaming Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the disappearance of a U.S.-based journalist.

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"It's up to the president," Graham said on Fox News's "Fox & Friends" when asked what President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' MORE should do about the situation. "I know what I'm going to do: I'm going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia."

Graham added that he was "personally offended" by the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, who has been missing since Oct. 2, when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork needed for his marriage.

He went on to say that he has been a staunch defender of Saudi Arabia, but warned that he cannot "do business" with the country until Salman is ousted.

"This guy is a wrecking ball. He had this guy murdered," Graham said. "To expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused."

 

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate on orders of the government in Riyadh.

CNN reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia was readying a report that would acknowledge Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong. One source told CNN that the report would likely find that the interrogation was carried out "without clearance."

Graham added that the Saudi crown prince is "toxic" and has "got to go," before turning directly to the camera to make his pitch.

"Saudi Arabia, if you’re listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself," Graham said.

Khashoggi's disappearance has put a new strain on the U.S.-Saudi relationship, with Trump facing bipartisan pressure from Congress to enact swift punishment on Riyadh if officials there can't provide evidence that Khashoggi is still alive.

Graham's pledge to try to sanction Saudi Arabia comes as lawmakers are weighing how to respond if the allegations implicating Saudi Arabia are true.

In addition to potential sanctions, some lawmakers want pending U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia to be on the table, even though the Senate has blocked similar efforts during the Trump administration.

GOP Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats Trump UN pick donated to GOP members on Senate Foreign Relations panel Overnight Defense: Senate breaks with Trump on Yemen war | Shanahan hit with ethics complaint over Boeing ties | Pentagon rolls out order to implement transgender ban | Dem chair throws cold water on Space Force budget MORE (Ind.) also told CNN on Monday that he did not believe any Treasury officials should attend an upcoming finance conference in Saudi Arabia. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Taxpayers slow to file as they grapple with tax law | Schiff says Dems to charge ahead with Trump probes | Feds charge Avenatti with trying to extort Nike | Yellen sees no recession in sight House Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and 'get it over with' Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week MORE, however, is currently still expected to attend.