GOP lawmaker backs sanctions if Saudi Arabia 'responsible' for journalist's disappearance

Rep. Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoMcCaul set to serve as ranking member of House Committee on Foreign Affairs House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses Republicans jockey for top GOP spot on House Foreign Affairs Committee MORE (R-Fla.) on Monday said that he would support U.S. sanctions against Saudi Arabia under the Magnitsky Act if they are "responsible" for journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance. 

"Yeah, for those ones that are responsible. That's the whole purpose of that bill," Yoho, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on "Rising" when asked whether he would support sanctions under the act. 

"That's a very powerful tool that the United States has in their foreign diplomacy, and it came out of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and we're very proud of that bill," he continued. 

The Magnitsky Act authorizes the government to sanction human rights violators, freeze their assets and prevent them from gaining entry into the U.S. 

A bipartisan group of senators has sent a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill MORE calling for a probe into Khashoggi's disappearance, and for him to determine whether the U.S. should slap sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

The legislation requires that the president make a decision within 120 days of receiving the letter on whether to put sanctions on another country.

Trump announced on Monday that he was sending Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe Trump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race Paul calls Trump's pick for attorney general's views on surveillance 'very troubling' MORE to meet with the Saudi king after Saudi Arabia continued to deny any involvement into Khashoggi's disappearance. 

While Trump is facing pressure from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, he has been slow to put pressure on Saudi Arabia amid Khashoggi's disappearance and has defended a $110 billion arms deal with Riyadh. 

He said in an interview with "60 Minutes" on Sunday that there were other ways of punishing Saudi Arabia.

— Julia Manchester