McConnell: Saudi actions 'abhorrent' and warrant 'response'

McConnell: Saudi actions 'abhorrent' and warrant 'response'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight 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 On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said Saudi Arabia should be punished for the death of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month and that senators are reviewing actions to take.

“What obviously happened, as basically certified by the CIA, is completely abhorrent to everything the United States holds dear and stands for in the world so some kind of response to that certainly would be in order,” he told reporters after meeting with the GOP conference.

“We’re discussing what the appropriate response should be,” he said.

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Senators will receive a briefing on U.S.-Saudi relations Wednesday morning from Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Pompeo to meet Netanyahu as US alliances questioned Washington indecision compounded the Kurds' dilemma MORE and Defense Secretary James Mattis. 

The meeting will focus on the war in Yemen, where a Saudi-backed coalition is fighting Iranian rebels, but the circumstances of Khashoggi’s death are expected to come up.

Several media outlets have reported that the CIA concluded before Thanksgiving based on an intercepted phone call that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s death.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE, however, has disputed those reports.

McConnell on Tuesday said the nation has always had “kind of a pragmatic relationship” with Saudi Arabia “regardless of who’s been in the White House.”

“We value their opposition to the Iranians and I think almost no one believes we should completely and totally fracture our relation with the Saudis but, yes, some kind of response is going to be appropriate,” he said. “We’re going to continue to talk about that.” 

A bipartisan group of senators backs the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act, which would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, bar U.S. refueling aircraft from assisting Saudi planes flying missions over Yemen, and sanction people responsible for blocking humanitarian access to Yemen. 

It would also place sanctions on people responsible for Khashoggi’s death and require a report on human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.