While some in Congress are calling for a strong response against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the wake of the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, one Republican congressman is taking a different stance.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) broke with the hardline stances taken by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) during an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Stewart has been briefed on information related to the Khashoggi killing that has not yet been made public. But both Graham and Corker were briefed in a separate meeting, and they’re taking a remarkably different stance.
Stewart suggested that the Senate could have been briefed on different information than he was, but still stood by President Donald Trump’s soft stance against Saudi Arabia in wake of the killing.
“We have to have a relationship with some players that we don’t agree with,” Stewart said. “Journalists disappear all over the country.”
Stewart then pointed to other countries where journalists have been killed:
“Twenty journalists have been killed in Mexico. You don’t think it’s happened in Turkey or China? Of course it does. And yet we have to have a relationship with these individuals and with these countries.”
Watch the video below, via CNN:
The congressman stressed that it was important to hold Saudi Arabia and Mohammad bin Salman accountable, but added that maintaining a working relationship with the Gulf nation could be in the best interests of the country.
Graham took a sharply different response in his remarks after a Tuesday briefing, saying that he had “high confidence” that it would have been “virtually impossible” for Khashoggi to have been murdered without Mohammad bin Salman’s knowledge.
“Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving,” Graham said, “but not at all costs.”
Lindsey Graham: Saudi Arabia's crown prince is a "wrecking ball" who's "complicit in the murder" of Jamal Khashoggi to the "highest level possible."
"Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving, but not at all costs." Via ABC. pic.twitter.com/0gnWIA2ka3
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 4, 2018
“We’ll do more damage to our standing in the world and our national security by ignoring MBS than dealing with him,” he added. “MBS, the crown prince, is a wrecking ball. I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.”