By Michael Hernandez
There will be “hell to pay” if Saudi Arabia killed a missing Washington Post journalist, a senior senator tersely warned Wednesday.
Lindsey Graham, who said he will be meeting with the Saudi’s envoy to Washington on later Wednesday, said thus far Riyadh’s explanations for Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance “make no sense.”
“I’ve never been more disturbed than I am right now,” Graham told reporters at the Capitol building, but he cautioned against rushing to judgement regarding Khashoggi’s fate.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, and has not been heard from since amid speculation that he was killed by Saudi authorities.
“If this did, in fact, happen, if this man was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, that would cross every line of normality in the international community,” he said. “If it did happen there would be hell to pay.”
The dire warning is the second issued Wednesday.
Congressman Ro Khanna also said the U.S. should reassess its relationship with the kingdom if Khashoggi was killed by Riyadh.
“If the allegations are true, I hope this is a serious wake-up call to the Trump Administration and DC more broadly that we need a complete reevaluation of our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Khanna, who has been a fierce critic of Riyadh’s campaign in neighboring Yemen, said in a statement.
“From the war in Yemen, to their recent diplomatic expulsion of our NATO ally Canada, it’s time we come to grips with the reality that this relationship is not serving our interests. This is what happens when you embolden authoritarian dictators around the world,” he added.
U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he spoke at the “highest” levels to Saudi officials about Khashoggi’s disappearance, but did not specify who he has been in talks with.
The acknowledgement comes one day after a bicameral and bipartisan pair of lawmakers issued a letter to the president asking him to “personally” raise the issue with Saudi and Turkish authorities.
“We write to urge you to personally raise the issue of Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and welfare with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. We also request that you offer U.S. support to any independent investigation into his disappearance,” wrote Senator Tim Kaine and Gerry Connolly, who represent the state of Virginia in their respective chambers.
Addressing reporters at the White House Trump said the U.S. will “get to the bottom of” the journalist’s disappearance.
“I’m not happy about this. We have to see what happens,” Trump said, adding that the U.S. has been in contact with Turkish officials about the case.
Saudi authorities have yet to give a clear explanation on the fate of Khashoggi while several countries, particularly Turkey, the U.S. and the U.K. have expressed their desires the matter should be elucidated as soon as possible.
According to his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi first arrived at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Sept. 28. Since he was told his documents would be ready in a week, Khashoggi went to London and returned to Istanbul on Oct. 1.
Khashoggi called the consulate and was told “that documents are being prepared” and he could come to the consulate. He went to the diplomatic building on Oct. 2 with Cengiz.
Before he entered the building, Khashoggi told her to call Yasin Aktay, an advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Turkish-Arab Media Association should he not emerge from the consulate in two hours.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul has launched a formal investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi.
The Turkish police department said hours later Khashoggi had not left the building since he entered.
On the same day, 15 Saudis, including several officials, arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate while Khashoggi was also inside, police sources said.
All of the identified individuals have since left Turkey.