Graham explains shift in Yemen vote: ‘I changed my mind because I'm pissed’

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) explained Wednesday that he flipped his vote on a resolution that would end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war because he was “pissed” about how the Trump administration has handled Saudi Arabia following the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I changed my mind because I’m pissed,” Graham said of his vote.

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“The way the administration had handled the Saudi Arabia event is just not acceptable, the briefing [Wednesday] did not help me at all better understand the role that [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] played in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.”

The Senate voted 63-37 Wednesday to advance the resolution calling for an end to U.S. military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war despite a White House effort to block the bill. 

The vote advances the resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee, making it available for action before the full Senate.

Senators have expressed frustration with Saudi Arabia amid growing questions about the death of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post contributor frequently critical of Riyadh, and whether Saudi Arabia is actively trying to limit civilian deaths in Yemen.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTop nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Top nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Overnight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump admin to discuss sending additional military force to Middle East amid Iran tensions: report Buttigieg: Iran situation 'disturbingly reminiscent' of lead-up to Iraq War Buttigieg: Iran situation 'disturbingly reminiscent' of lead-up to Iraq War MORE held a briefing on the vote on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, arguing that withdrawing U.S. support from the war would undermine efforts to improve Saudi targeting and broker peace at a time when those talks appear on the precipice of starting, according to their prepared remarks.

CIA Director Gina Haspel was not at the briefing.

Graham threatened Wednesday to withhold his vote on key items until the CIA briefs the full chamber.

Graham has not supported the underlying resolution but said he voted to get it out of the committee because “this whole process is BS” without a CIA briefing.