By Servet Gunerigok
The New York Times urged Republican Senator Lindsay Graham to act after U.S. President Donald Trump defended American-Saudi relations in spite of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The newspaper's editorial board said Trump’s statement reflected his view that all relationships are transactional, and moral or human rights considerations must be sacrificed to a primitive understanding of American national interests.
Trump's statement came after reports the CIA concluded with high confidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's murder.
The board criticized the opening line of the statement that said, "The world is a very dangerous place!" and said Trump was "making it more so by emboldening despots" in the Saudi kingdom and elsewhere.
"The killing, revealed in all its inhuman detail by a Turkish audio recording and followed by a stream of lies revising previous lies from the Saudi regime, seemed to reflect arrogance of a rising breed of autocratic rulers impervious to shame or moral judgment," said the board.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
After initially saying he left the consulate alive, the Saudi administration admitted weeks later he was killed there.
His body has yet to be returned to his family, who have been seeking its return, amid reports that it was chemically dissolved.
Trump went on to challenge members of Congress "who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction," in reference to demands from lawmakers for imposing sanctions on Riyadh for the killing.
"In the absence of leadership from the president, it falls to Congress to take action and protect America’s standing in the world. Mr. Trump knows he is on a collision course with the legislature," said the newspaper.
Trump’s statement drew criticism from several senators and Congress members. Graham said there would be a bipartisan support for "serious" sanctions against Riyadh, including members of the Saudi royal family.
"While Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, the behavior of the crown prince — in multiple ways — has shown disrespect for the relationship and made him, in my view, beyond toxic," said Graham.
The New York Times editorial board said the Khashoggi's murder and the causes of human rights, justice and truth demand that no one in Saudi Arabia, certainly not the crown prince, escape accountability.
"Your move, Senator Graham," wrote the board.