Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said Tuesday that if the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is implicated in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he should be removed from his country’s line of succession.
“Mohammed bin Salman is not the head of state,” Portman said in a brief interview in the US Capitol in Washington. “His father is, King Salman. And my hope is that if the facts lead to the crown prince, MBS, that there will be a decision to change the leadership, the succession. It’s not our decision. It’s theirs.”
Portman, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, was one of almost two dozen bipartisan senators who signed a letter to President Donald Trump, requiring an investigation into Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi consulate in Ankara several weeks ago.
“First, we should get all the facts,” Portman said. “Second, if the facts confirm what many of us suspect, which is that the Saudi government was complicit in this, there have to be consequences.”
He said taking the young crown prince out of the line of succession would be in the Saudis’ interest.
“I think that would be a logical conclusion,” he said. “I think that would be in their interest.”
Portman said these next steps on Saudi Arabia will be dependent on a “real investigation” of what happened.
“All of this is contingent on a real investigation that digs into the facts,” he said. “I think we’ll have one. I think we’re going to know more and more.”
Portman expects lawmakers to be briefed on the investigation when Congress returns to session in mid-November.