Graham: 'Game changer' if Saudis behind journalist's disappearance

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCorker to introduce resolution holding Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi's death Cornyn opens door to including criminal justice bill in government funding measure The Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe MORE (R-S.C.) is calling it a "game changer" if Saudi Arabia was involved in the disappearance of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"I'm hoping that there's a rational explanation, but it seems less and less likely, and if it plays out that the Saudi Arabian government mistreated this man because of his dissident voice in Istanbul, it will be a game changer for me,” Graham told reporters Wednesday on his way to review classified documents related to last week's disappearance of the Saudi journalist.

Khashoggi, a regular opinion contributor to The Washington Post and a critic of Saudi Arabia's leadership, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Turkish police have said that Saudi operatives killed Khashoggi at the consulate, something Saudi officials deny. The Trump administration has pressed the Saudi government for answers.

Earlier Wednesday, Graham promised there would "be hell to pay" if the Saudi government was found responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance.

"I think they know what it means," Graham told Hill.TV when asked what he meant by "hell to pay."

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeTrump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race Trump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to 0B: reports Inhofe tells military crowd: 'Don't trust the media' MORE (R-Okla.), who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed with Graham's "hell to pay" pledge saying “he's right because that’s a pretty serious thing ... We don’t even know where [Khashoggi] is now, or if he’s alive or dead.”

— Molly K. Hooper