Durbin opposes Saudi arms sale over missing journalist

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Trump discussing visit overseas to troops following criticism: report Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation MORE should end the United States's arms deal with Saudi Arabia over the country's apparent role in the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said in a statement Sunday that he spoke this weekend with Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and told him that "he should expect a very negative response" if the country is complicit in Khashoggi's suspected death.

"I told Ambassador bin Salman that he should expect a very negative response from both sides of the aisle in Congress if Mr. Khashoggi was in fact kidnapped and murdered. And if that is the case, I do not believe the U.S. should continue to be party to supporting the Saudis in the bloodshed in Yemen -- a halt that is long overdue given the humanitarian disaster resulting from that conflict," Durbin said.

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The U.S. has supported Saudi Arabia in Yemen's civil war with billions of dollars in arms sales.

Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, is suspected of having been killed by 15 Saudi agents who entered Turkey the day of his disappearance.

Trump has promised "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if he concludes they murdered Khashoggi but has also said he doesn't think the U.S. should halt its arms sales to the Saudi kingdom.

"It’s the best equipment in the world but if they don’t buy it from us, they’re going to buy it from Russia or they’re going to buy it from China or they’re going to buy it from other countries,” he said Saturday in the Oval Office.

In his statement Sunday, Durbin also said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should "immediately cancel his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia" for an upcoming global finance conference.