A group of Republican and Democratic senators defied the White House on Wednesday and introduced a resolution that would hold Saudi Arabia’s crown prince accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
The resolution was introduced by Republicans Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Todd Young and Democrats Dianne Feinstein, Ed Markey and Christopher Coons.
The resolution says the Senate believes Mohammed bin Salman “was in control of security forces” during the killing and has “a high level of confidence” that the crown prince was “complicit” in the murder, based on “evidence and analysis made available”.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October.
After initially saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that he was killed there, blaming his death on a group of rogue Saudi operatives.
“I believe it’s vitally important to U.S. national security interests to make a definitive statement about the brutal murder of an American resident — Mr. Khashoggi — who has three American citizen children,” Graham said in a statement.
The non-binding resolution is also seeking to hold bin Salman accountable for contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the blockade of Qatar, the jailing of political dissidents in Riyadh and the use of force to intimidate rivals.
If approved, the resolution would put the Senate on record as saying that the crown prince is responsible for Khashoggi’s killing. It would also pressure U.S. President Donald Trump to decide whether to veto the measure.
The move came a day after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed a small group of senators on Khashoggi’s murder following an outcry from lawmakers over her absence last week during a Senate briefing on Yemen that was attended by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
The resolution also calls on Saudi Arabia’s government to negotiate with representatives of the Houthi rebel group in Yemen and agree to a political resolution and end the country’s humanitarian crisis.