WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading Democrats in Congress called on Tuesday for cuts in U.S. support for Saudi Arabia and criticized President Donald Trump for failing to take action against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA believes ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Representative Adam Schiff, who will chair the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January, said it was “inconceivable” that the crown prince was “either unknowing or uninvolved in Khashoggi’s murder.”
In a statement, Schiff called for an immediate cut-off in U.S. support for Saudi military operations in Yemen and a suspension in U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
In a statement emailed to Reuters, Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also criticized Trump for his response to the Khashoggi killing.
“The President’s failure to hold Saudi Arabia responsible in any meaningful way for the death of Jamal Khashoggi is just one more example of this White House’s retreat from America’s leadership on issues like human rights and protecting the free press,” Warner said.
Two other Senate Democrats also criticized Trump’s handling of the Khashoggi killing, which the Central Intelligence Agency, in secret congressional briefings, has said was ordered by the crown prince.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she would withhold support for Saudi Arabia and urged U.S. sanctions after President Donald Trump’s statement earlier on Tuesday pledging to back Riyadh despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Feinstein said in a statement that she would not vote for any future weapons sales or appropriations for Saudi Arabia. She was “shocked” that Trump would not punish Saudi Arabia’s crown prince for the “premeditated murder” of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, the statement said.
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said that Trump had made it “clear that he does not care who ordered the brutal murder” of Khashoggi.
Wyden said that if the director of the CIA and director of national intelligence do not make public their assessments regarding Khashoggi’s killing, he would introduce legislation next week to require U.S. spy agencies to publish their findings on who ordered the murder.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Susan Heavey; editing by Grant McCool and Dan Grebler