GOP senator: Saudi crown prince 'really was the original El Chapo'

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) likened Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the former Sinaloa Cartel leader facing trial in New York City, on Tuesday.

"With the exception of Israel, all of the leaders in the Middle East are pirates," Kennedy told Fox News. "We settle dispute with elections, they settle them with executions."

"I think Prince Mohammed gave the order, or at least he new about it, to butcher Khashoggi. Prince Mohammed ... he really was the original El Chapo, literally."

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Jamal Khashoggi was reportedly tortured, murdered and then dismembered with a bone saw by Saudi operatives in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in early October. 

Guzmán worked in the drug trade before Mohammed rose to crown prince and is infamous for his ruthless leadership over the Sinaloa Cartel.

Kennedy emphasized the importance of maintaining the United States' strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, despite state officials' involvement in Khashoggi's murder.

On Tuesday, he sided with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOcasio-Cortez: By Lindsey Graham's 1999 standard for Clinton, Trump should be impeached Senate votes to end US support for Saudi war, bucking Trump Former FBI official says Mueller won’t be ‘colored by politics’ in Russia probe MORE (R-S.C.), saying that the U.S. needed to punish the kingdom.

"Lindsey Graham is right, we don't have to choose between power and principle," he told Fox News. "What we have to do is figure out a way to punish the Hell out of Saudi Arabia without blowing up the Middle East." 

Kennedy said Tuesday that the best answer was energy independence from the Middle East, which America has moved toward since the invention of fracking.

"The best answer for America, the best revenge if you will, let's become energy independent," Kennedy said.

"Let's just let American free enterprise use, then we won't have to depend on any of these countries in the Middle East for oil."

"And as long as they leave Israel alone and don't get nuclear weapons, they can do what they want to for each other," he said. "And I think that's the way most Americans feel."