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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 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 PaulOvernight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Rand Paul: 'We need to re-examine' US-Saudi relationship after Florida shooting Senate panel advances Turkey sanctions bill despite Trump objections 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