Defying President Trump, senators sent a strong signal that they want to punish Saudi Arabia for its role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. By a bipartisan 63-37 vote, the Senate opted to move forward with legislation calling for an end to US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The vote on Wednesday was a rebuke not only to Saudi Arabia but also to Trump's administration, which has made clear it does not want to torpedo the long-standing US relationship with Riyadh over the killing, the AP reports. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to urgently lobby against the resolution.
Emerging from the briefing, Pompeo said the vote would be "poorly timed" as diplomatic efforts to end the conflict are underway. Wednesday's procedural vote sets up a floor debate on the resolution next week. Several senators said they were angry about the absence of CIA Director Gina Haspel from the pre-vote briefing. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speculated that Haspel didn't attend because she "would have said with a high degree of confidence that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi." (Last week, Trump said "maybe the world" should be blamed for the journalist's death.)