Lindsey Graham is threatening to shut down any contentious business in the Senate until he gets answers on the killing of a journalist in a Saudi consulate.
Graham threatened to withhold a key vote that senators will need to pass measures in the final days before Congress adjourns for the end of the year.
“Anything that you need me for to get out of town, I ain’t doing it until we hear from the CIA,” Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday, according to Roll Call.
Graham spoke after senators were briefed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The two cabinet secretaries are trying to dissuade senators from ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen after Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and Washington Post columnist living in the United States, was killed inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey, The Hill reports.
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But senators, including Graham, want to hear from CIA Director Gina Haspel on what the spy agency knows about Khashoggi’s killing. Haspel has traveled to Turkey as part of the agency’s investigation and heard a recording of the killing itself.
Congress still has some important work to do before the holidays. The federal government will shut down if a new spending bill isn’t approved by Dec. 7. That measure could face opposition if it includes money for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, as the president has called for.
Senators also are scheduled to vote on the controversial nomination of Thomas Farr for a federal judgeship in North Carolina. South Carolina’s other senator, Tim Scott, has signaled he may oppose the nomination because of accusations Farr worked to suppress African-American votes in the past.
Graham told McClatchy Wednesday he will vote for Farr’s confirmation, saying he does not consider that a key vote.
“It’s a district court,” explained Graham, who is expected to be chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee next year. “I’ll save my powder for the big stuff.”
Graham said he “talked to the White House” about his concerns. As to whether he thought his concerns were being taken seriously, Graham replied, “not really.”
South Carolina’s senior senator has taken a hard line on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s killing. He has called for sanctions on the Saudi royal family, and was among lawmakers critical of a statement from the Trump administration last week affirming the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia despite Khashoggi’s death.
Emma Dumain with the McClatchy Washington Bureau contributed.