Congress

Blunt knocks Republicans for talking about CIA briefing on murder of Saudi journalist

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri., left and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee., talk during a hearing to review Department of Education’s Fiscal Year 2019 funding request, June 5, 2018.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri., left and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee., talk during a hearing to review Department of Education’s Fiscal Year 2019 funding request, June 5, 2018. AP

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt is annoyed with his fellow Republicans, after several walked out of a classified briefing on Tuesday and blasted the Trump administration for willfully ignoring evidence linking Saudi Arabia’s crown prince to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I’ll tell you what I did think: I think when you have a classified CIA briefing you don’t come out of the room and talk about it,” Blunt said on Wednesday.

The handful of prominent Republicans who openly broke with the administration over Khashoggi’s killing on Tuesday after receiving a briefing by CIA director Gina Haspel, included South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was not invited to the meeting, joined Graham and Corker in criticizing the administration. He complained that the “deep state” was blocking him from important information.

Blunt is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the fourth-ranking member of Senate GOP leadership. He was not in Haspel’s briefing, which was attended by a select number of committee chairs and top-ranking Democrats. Blunt did attend a briefing on Khashoggi’s death last month led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis.



South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham calls Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, 'a wrecking ball' who is complicit in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after a closed-door CIA briefing.

He was one of 37 Republicans who voted against advancing a nonbinding resolution last week to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

Blunt told reporters at the time that the House was unlikley to move on the resolution, and he didn’t think a Senate debate on Yemen would be particularly helpful in encouraging the peace process along.

“The U.S. presence in the area is important and while lots of things are happening in a war zone that you wouldn’t want to happen worse things would happen if you had no presence there,” he said.

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, a former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also voted no on advancing the resolution.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who supported the resolution, said last week that the Trump administration’s weak response to Khashoggi’s murder had damaged the nation’s credibility abroad.

“I think we have lost a lot of our moral high ground,” McCaskill said on the day of the vote. “And that’s one of the things that our country has depended on in terms of power around the world. We have leveraged our standards... They have done, I believe, some permanent damage to that standing.”

The Star’s Bryan Lowry contributed to this report.

Lindsay Wise is an investigative reporter for McClatchy’s Washington Bureau. Previously, Lindsay worked for six years as the Washington correspondent for McClatchy’s Kansas City Star. Before joining McClatchy in 2012, she worked as a reporter at the Houston Chronicle, where she specialized in coverage of veterans and military issues as well as the city’s Arab and Muslim communities.

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