THE SENATE has taken an important step toward holding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the murder of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. On Thursday, it unanimously approved a resolution that assigns responsibility to the crown prince for the killing and says the regime’s “misleading statements” about the case “have undermined trust and confidence” in Saudi-U.S. relations. The vote was a powerful repudiation of President Trump’s refusal to accept, or act upon, the truth about the crown prince — and it should cause the president to reconsider.
The resolution’s passage came on the heels of a 56-to-41 vote in favor of another resolution ending U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen under the War Powers Act. House Republicans have already moved to block consideration of that measure. But if Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) wishes to end his congressional career with a touch of honor, he should schedule a vote next week on the Khashoggi resolution. House members should have the opportunity to show whether they stand with U.S. intelligence professionals who have concluded that Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for this act of wanton brutality — or with a president who would bury the facts in service of (largely phantom) weapons sales. They should have a chance to stand up for the American values, including support for human rights, that Mr. Trump has repudiated.
The evidence connecting Mohammed bin Salman to the killing is overwhelming. According to The Post’s reporting, the 15-member team sent to Istanbul to attack Mr. Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2 included several of the crown prince’s personal bodyguards. It was headed by another close associate who called a top aide in Riyadh to say that he should “tell your boss” that Mr. Khashoggi was dead. The CIA discovered that the aide, Saud al-Qahtani, and the crown prince exchanged numerous texts during that time period.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a sponsor of the resolution, was fully justified in telling the Senate: “I absolutely believe [Mohammed bin Salman] directed it. I believe he monitored it. And I believe he is responsible for it.”
The Senate’s action ought to make clear to Mr. Trump, as well as King Salman, that the U.S.-Saudi relationship cannot continue without change. There must be, as the resolution puts it, “appropriate accountability for all those responsible” for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. The war in Yemen must be brought to a swift end. And the reckless foreign adventures and crushing internal repression that have been the most prominent features of the crown prince’s rule must end.
Notably, the resolution calls for the release of political prisoners jailed for advocating peaceful reforms, such as the right for women to drive. It names Raif Badawi, Samar Badawi and the women’s rights activists rounded up this year and reportedly subjected to torture and sexual assault. If the Saudi regime wishes to preserve its relationship with the United States, it should act swiftly. The Senate’s vote shows that Mr. Trump cannot protect the kingdom from the consequences of the crown prince’s criminal acts.