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 TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller 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 PaulUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Overnight Defense: Iran seizes British tanker in latest escalation | US, UK to discuss situation | Trump says 'no doubt' US downed Iranian drone after Tehran's denials | Pentagon's No. 2 policy official to leave | Lawmakers worry about Defense vacancies 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