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Republican senators split with Trump over assassinated Saudi journalist

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Several U.S. Republican senators on Sunday rejected President Donald Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with some lawmakers from his party saying Congress must take additional action.

Trump vowed last week to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia and said it was not clear whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about the plan to kill Khashoggi last month at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The president cast doubt on the CIA assessment that Crown Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s killing, telling reporters that the agency had not formed a definitive conclusion.

“I disagree with the president’s assessment. It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen,” which implicates the crown prince, Republican Senator Mike Lee said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He cited the Khashoggi killing as another reason why he has pushed against helping Saudi Arabia’s war effort in Yemen.

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The United States on Nov. 15 imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their role in the killing of Khashoggi and senators from both major U.S. parties introduced legislation that would suspend weapon sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi and for its role in Yemen’s civil war.

Democratic U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who is in line to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats regain control of the chamber in January, has promised investigations on the Khashoggi case as well as whether Trump’s personal financial interests are dictating his Saudi policy.

“Look, the president is not being honest with the country about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “What’s driving this?”

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Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the crown prince, was killed Oct. 2. Riyadh initially denied knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance, then offered contradictory explanations.

“I do think we need to look into this further,” Republican Senator Joni Ernst said on CNN.

Ernst acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s importance as a strategic partner.

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“However, we also are a very strong nation when it comes to human rights, when it comes to the rule of law,” Ernst said.

“And if there are indicators that the prince was involved in this murder then we need to absolutely consider further action.”

Senator Ben Sasse, a frequent Trump critic, criticized Trump’s stance on Khashoggi’s killing as weak.

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“Making the realist case is a different thing than being so weak that we failed to tell the truth, Sasse said on “Fox News Sunday.” Crown Prince Mohammed “contributed to murdering somebody abroad and it is not strength to sort of mumble past that. Strength is telling the truth even when it’s hard.”

Other Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Bob Corker, have been unsparing in their assessments of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Khashoggi’s killing.

“I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote on Twitter after Trump’s comments on Tuesday.

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Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Lucia Mutikani, Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Lisa Shumaker


Report typos and corrections to [email protected].

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Trump’s racism is ‘disqualifying’ for him to remain as president: former White House lawyer

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Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained on MSNBC on Thursday why he viewed President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four women of color in Congress as disqualifying.

Anchor Brian Williams read a quote from Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

"Half of the country is appalled but not really sure how to combat him; the other half is cheering, or at least averting its gaze. This is what a political civil war looks like, with words, for now, as weapons," Glasser wrote.

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Lawrence O’Donnell reports on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump

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Anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump during Thursday evening's "The Last Word" on MSNBC.

"The House of Representatives conducted a symbolic vote on a hastily written impeachment resolution by Democratic Congressman Al Green in reaction to the president’s tweeted comments that the House of Representatives voted to condemn as racist," O'Donnell reported. "The impeachment resolution had nothing to do with the [Robert] Mueller investigation and referred only to the president being unfit for office because of the language that he has used recently about members of Congress and immigrants and asylum seekers."

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Video proves how far the Trump’s GOP has gone from the era of Ronald Reagan and HW Bush

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The immigration policies of Donald Trump’s presidency would have no room for his GOP predecessors Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush—who both embraced work visas, family unification, easy border crossings and a better relationship with Mexico.

That counterpoint can be seen in a very short video clip from the 1980 presidential election where Reagan and Bush—who became Reagan’s vice president for two terms before winning the presidency in 1988—were asked about immigration at a campaign debate in Texas. Their responses show just how far to the right the Republican Party’s current leader, President Trump, and voters who have not left the GOP to become self-described political independents, have moved on immigration.

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