Durbin calls for expulsion of Saudi ambassador in response to Khashoggi's death

Durbin calls for expulsion of Saudi ambassador in response to Khashoggi's death
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Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Ill.) said Sunday that the U.S. should formally expel Saudi Arabia's ambassador in response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"We ought to formally expel the Saudi ambassador from the United States until there is a completion of a third-party investigation into this kidnap, murder and god-knows-what-followed that occurred in Istanbul," Durbin said.

He suggested the ambassador be expelled "tomorrow morning," calling it part of a broader effort to send a message to Saudi leadership about Khashoggi's death. Unless countries like the U.S. take action, he said, "they’ll continue doing it."

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Durbin went on to argue that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "has his fingerprints all over" Khashoggi's death, noting that several of the prince's personal bodyguards were among those detained in connection with the incident.

The senator's call to expel the ambassador comes a day after Republican Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanColorado mayor says he called protesters 'domestic terrorists' out of 'frustration' Colorado governor directs officials to reexamine death of Elijah McClain in police custody Petition demanding justice for Elijah McClain surpasses 2 million signatures MORE (Colo.) urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE to recall the acting U.S. ambassador from Saudi Arabia. There is not currently an individual appointed to that post, however.

Saudi officials announced Friday that Khashoggi was killed in a physical altercation gone awry at the consulate, and that 18 people had been detained in connection to the incident. 

The explanation promptly drew skepticism from U.S. senators and Khashoggi’s former colleagues, who said the idea of the 59-year-old getting into a fight with Saudi security officials did not seem credible. 

Trump called the explanation a “good first step,” but on Saturday acknowledged to The Washington Post that the Saudi comments about Khashoggi’s disappearance were constantly changing. 

The president has walked a fine line following the journalist’s disappearance, at times vowing harsh punishment for those responsible and alternatively defending the importance of the economic relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.