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
© Getty Images

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinNegotiators face major obstacles to meeting July border deadline Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions Schumer calls for delay on passage of defense bill amid Iran tensions 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CoffmanKoch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Denver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' MORE (Colo.) urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question 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.