Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Friday dismissed the Saudi narrative of what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago, even as President Trump called the admission of Khashoggi’s death “a great first step.”
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs blamed the death of the Washington Post columnist on a fight between Khashoggi and unidentified men inside the Saudi consulate. The Saudis had insisted for days that Khashoggi had left the consulate unharmed on Oct. 2.
“This story doesn’t hold water,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., tweeted.
“Saudi actions & explanations continue to defy credibility & common sense,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, “It’s hard to find this latest explanation as credible. "
“If he was fighting with those sent to capture or kill him, it was for his life,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted.
After confirmation of Khashoggi’s death, Trump said he did not feel lied to by the Saudis, who previously denied involvement in the disappearance. When asked if he found the Saudis’ explanation credible, he said “I do, I do.”
“I think it’s a very important first step,” he said, adding that if the U.S. does impose sanctions, he would prefer it not to cancel this administration’s $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., demanded “a severe price” be paid by the Saudis and that the U.S. stop “all military sales, aid and cooperation immediately.”
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., called on Trump to recall the acting U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.