GOP senator: US should condemn Saudi Arabia 'without blowing up the Middle East'

GOP senator: US should condemn Saudi Arabia 'without blowing up the Middle East'
© Anna Moneymaker
Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) said Wednesday that the United States should condemn Saudi Arabia if it's found responsible for the disappearance and alleged slaying of U.S-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but warned against "blowing up the Middle East."
"I'm open to having Congress sit down with the president, if this all turns out to be true, and it looks like it is ... and saying how can we express our condemnation without blowing up the Middle East," Kennedy told reporters when asked if he would support ending U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
He added that if the U.S. government can "do this right" it would lead to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE or Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report Pentagon to present White House with plans to deploy up to 10K troops to Middle East: report Senate panel rejects requiring Congress sign off before Iran strike MORE sitting down with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and saying " 'look, this is not acceptable, we condemn you for doing it … Here's why it's not in your interest.' "
Lawmakers and the Trump administration are grappling with how to respond to the disappearance of Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi leadership who served as an opinion contributor to The Washington Post. Khashoggi was last seen Oct. 2 entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork needed for his marriage.
Pressed on how the United States or the international community could show that it condemns Saudi Arabia's actions, Kennedy there were a "number of options" and pitched a list that was "illustrative, not exhaustive."
"You could expel diplomats. You could do a U.N. resolution. You could curtail arms sales. You could do sanctions on individuals," he said. "Our foreign policy has to be anchored on values, that's America. … Having said that, we can't cut ourselves from the rest of the world."
Kennedy stressed that he wanted Congress and Trump to stick together and didn't want to see Congress "cowboying" in response to Saudi Arabia.
"There are a number of options. I would to see the president and Congress stay together. I don't want to see Congress go out cowboying this on their own," Kennedy added.
Saudi Arabia has denied wrongdoing, saying Khashoggi exited the consulate shortly after he arrived, though they have offered no evidence to support their claim and Turkish authorities have released a series of details to accuse Saudi officials of killing Khashoggi.
Trump has at least twice echoed denials from top Saudi officials that they are not involved in the disappearance.
Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday that he "just spoke" with Saudi Arabia's crown prince "who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate." Trump also touted a denial from the Saudi king the previous day.
Multiple reports on Monday indicated that Saudi Arabia was readying a report that would acknowledge Khashoggi's death, but characterize it as the result of an interrogation that went wrong.
One source told CNN that the report would likely find that the interrogation was carried out "without clearance." 
Other details have emerged, including photographs provided by Turkish authorities that link several Saudi officials connected to the crown prince to the journalist's disappearance.