Senate passes resolution naming crown prince ‘responsible’ for Khashoggi slaying

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The Senate easily passed a resolution Thursday naming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “responsible” for U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s slaying.

The measure, which was introduced earlier Thursday, passed the Senate by voice vote in the afternoon. It will now go to the House.

The resolution, spearheaded by outgoing Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), is nonbinding, but it puts the Senate on the record about the crown prince amid growing frustration on Capitol Hill over the U.S.-Saudi relationship.{mosads}

“Unanimously, the United States Senate has said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is a strong statement. I think it speaks to the values that we hold dear. … I’m glad the Senate is speaking with once voice unanimously toward this end,” Corker said shortly after the vote.

Passage of the measure marks a significant break from President Trump, who signaled this week he was standing by Saudi Arabia despite mounting backlash over the journalist’s killing inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Khashoggi was living in Virginia and was a columnist for The Washington Post before his killing.

Minutes before the vote condemning the crown prince on Thursday, the Senate also bucked Trump and approved a measure pulling U.S. support from the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, marking a dramatic U-turn from less than nine months ago when senators couldn’t even get the resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee. 

Trump told Reuters on Tuesday that he believes Saudi Arabia had been a “very good ally” and has repeatedly touted economic relations between the U.S. and the kingdom, including underscoring having billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the works.

In addition to saying the Senate “believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” the resolution passed Thursday also calls for the Saudi government “to ensure appropriate accountability for all those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.”

It further warns that “misleading statements by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi have undermined trust and confidence in the longstanding friendship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said shortly before Corker brought up the resolution that he had concerns with some of the language in the Khashoggi resolution but would support it because it directly implicates the crown prince. 

“Regardless of all of my other concerns about language is the central essence of what the chairman is going to do. I think it’s incredibly important for the Senate to speak on that issue and hopefully speak with one voice,” said Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. 

The U.S. intelligence community has reportedly determined that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing, and senators emerged from a closed-door briefing last week with CIA Director Gina Haspel convinced of his involvement. 

Tags Bob Corker Donald Trump Jamal Khashoggi killing Saudi Arabia–United States relations Senate Resolution voice vote
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