Rand Paul: Saudi explanation of Khashoggi's death 'insulting'

Rand Paul: Saudi explanation of Khashoggi's death 'insulting'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate to vote Thursday to block Trump's Saudi arms deal Senate to vote Thursday to block Trump's Saudi arms deal Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran MORE (R-Ky.) said Sunday that he does not believe Saudi Arabia's explanation of how dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi died earlier this month.

"Absolutely not, it’s insulting," Paul told "Fox News Sunday," when asked if he believed the Saudis' statement that Khashoggi died in a brawl gone wrong at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Turkish authorities have said they believe Saudi operatives murdered, tortured and dismembered Khashoggi when he entered the consulate that day, a claim the Saudis have denied.

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On Friday, the Saudis acknowledged that Khashoggi died in the consulate, but said it was the result of a fight gone wrong.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE last week that he had no foreknowledge of Khashoggi's fate.

Paul told "Fox News Sunday" he doesn't believe that.

"I feel certain that the crown prince was involved," Paul said. 

"I think it stretches credulity to believe the crown prince wasn't involved in this," he added. "And I think that's the way they're gonna write this off."

"People in Saudi Arabia ought to be aware that when you're told what to do, you go and do it, and then they'll execute you and put on the blame on someone else," he said. 

"There’s no way 15 people were sent to Turkey to kill a dissident without the approval of the crown prince," Paul said, referencing the 15 Saudis a pro-government Turkish paper alleged were involved in Khashoggi's disappearance. Saudi Arabia said 18 were arrested in connection with the incident.

Paul said that his conviction of the crown prince's involvement leads him to think that the U.S. must take a harder stance on punishing Saudi Arabia.

"We have to be stronger than just saying, 'Oh, we're gonna sanction a few of these people and pretend like we're doing something,' " Paul said. 

"I think we really need to discontinue our arms sales to Saudi Arabia and have a long and serious discussion about whether or not they want to be an ally or they want to be an enemy."

Trump and some other members of the Republican party, such as Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), have been hesitant to withdraw arms sales. Paul has vowed to force a vote on blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia the next time the administration notifies Congress of a sale.

Trump has said that the consequences will be "very severe" for those responsible for Khashoggi's death. He also told The Washington Post on Saturday that the Saudi crown prince is an "incredible ally" and "I would love if he wasn’t responsible" for Khashoggi's death.