Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican known for his virtually unwavering support of President Donald Trump, spoke out on Sunday against a proposed arms deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia, The Hill reports. Graham attributed his issue with the deal to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was murdered, and in fact, sawed into pieces, after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last year. According to both U.S. and international intelligence agencies, the incident was orchestrated and authorized by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"I've got a real problem with going back to doing business as usual with Saudi Arabia," Graham said. His remarks were made on an episode of Fox News Sunday.
"Jordan's a great ally, the UAE has been problematic in Yemen but are a good ally. Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, but the crown prince was, in my opinion, involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi and he's done a lot of other disruptive things, so I don't support the arms sales now," the senator continued.
Despite the consensus on what many believed happened with respect to Khashoggi, Trump has so far avoided any sort of condemnation of the crown prince, and in fact, has questioned whether he was involved in the killing at all. Officially, Saudi authorities have indicated that there were investigations of 21 people connected to the grisly killing, with prosecutors pursuing the death penalty for five of the men alleged to be involved directly.The arms deal in question was pushed forward late last week when the Trump administration invoked an emergency provision of the law that deals with selling arms to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies. Under that provision, the transaction could proceed without the congressional approval typically required. The emergency invocation took place under the premise that escalating tension in Iran was sufficiently urgent as to circumvent the usual process around such arms sales.
Democrats and other critics of the move have been quick to condemn the action, claiming that the Iran threat is overstated and questioning the motivations of the president and the Trump administration.
Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a prepared statement that the Trump administration had failed "to even identify which legal mechanism it thinks it is using," adding that the documentation "described years of malign Iranian behavior but failed to identify what actually constitutes an emergency today."