GOP pollster says Republicans could break with Trump on Saudi Arabia

Republican pollster Jim Hobart said Friday that congressional Republicans could break with President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE on Saudi Arabia depending on the formal U.S. response to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. 

"It's interesting. This is an issue where you've seen a lot of Republicans in the Senate break pretty sharply with the president, saying that we are going to have to get tough on Saudi Arabia due to what has happened here," Hobart told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons on "What America's Thinking."

"Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe MORE, a very, very consistent ally of the president, has said we should completely eliminate the arms deal. So I think it's an issue where you could potentially see more breaking with the president than on others," he continued. 

In a letter, five Republican senators urged the Trump administration to suspend talks with Saudi Arabia on a nuclear energy agreement after Khashoggi was reported killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Todd Young (Ind.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) signed the letter. 

Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and a Washington Post columnist, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey early last month.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that it could be several more weeks until the U.S. formally responds to Khashoggi's death, but said the Trump administration was reviewing putting sanctions on individuals they have identified as having been involved in the murder. 

A new American Barometer survey, conducted by Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company found that 57 percent of Republicans polled said the U.S. should wait to act until after an independent investigation determines whether the Saudi government is responsible for Khashoggi's death. 

— Julia Manchester