Posts tagged with "Senator Lindsey Graham"

Lindsey Graham says he will block Democrats’ effort to pass Supreme Court ethics bill

June 12, 2024

Senator Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, plans to block an effort by Senate Democrats to unanimously pass a Supreme Court ethics billon Wednesday, June 12, on the Senate floor, reports NBC News.

“I will object,” Graham (R-South Carolina), told NBC News. Graham’s objection means the bill won’t be able to move forward, because any senator can block a request.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said earlier on Tuesday, June 11, that he would make a unanimous consent request to pass Supreme Court ethics legislation that the panel advanced last July. A unanimous consent is an agreement on any question or matter before the Senate that sets aside a rule of procedure to expedite proceedings.

It isn’t clear whether the measure will come up for a vote under the normal process, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said he’s considering it.

Even before Graham made his comments, Democrats doubted the legislation would advance. “I think I know the outcome, but we’re going to go through the exercise to make sure that both parties are in the record,” Durbin told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

The Democratic-led Judiciary Committee advanced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act on a party-line vote nearly a year ago, but it can’t break a filibuster on the Senate floor without 60 votes. Democrats have 51 members, and no Republican is on board with the bill.

In a news release, Democrats said the vote follows “a myriad of apparent ethical lapses by Supreme Court justices, which demonstrate the need for ethics reform.”

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

The bill would give the court 180 days to adopt and publish a code of conduct—allowing the public to submit ethics complaints that would then be reviewed by a randomly selected panel of lower-court judges. It would also establish new rules for disclosing gifts and travel.

In addition, the legislation would require justices to publicly explain any decisions to recuse from cases.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Senate Judiciary Committee advances Supreme Court ethics bill

July 24, 2023

On Thursday, July 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced legislation that would require the Supreme Court to adopt an ethics code, with Democrats following through on their pledge for legislative action after a series of reports about Justice Clarence Thomas’ relationship with a Republican real estate magnate, reports CBS News.

Called the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal and Transparency Act, the bill from lead sponsor Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse cleared the committee along party lines, 11-10.

During the committee’s consideration of the measure, Republicans introduced several amendments touching on the protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes, the leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court expansion, and imposing new rules on reporters who cover the high court.

All of the GOP senators’ proposed changes failed, with the exception of one: An amendment from Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana that, after it was modified, condemns racist attacks and comments against current or former justices, including Thomas, which passed unanimously.

GOP lawmakers have said Whitehouse’s bill is dead on arrival in the full Senate and Republican-controlled House.

The Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023 would:

  • Require Supreme Court Justices to adopt a code of conduct;
  • Create a mechanism to investigate alleged violations of the code of conduct and other laws;
  • Improve disclosure and transparency when a Justice has a connection to a party or amicus before the Court; and
  • Require Justices to explain their recusal decisions to the public.

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights, released the following statement on the vote:

“We’ve been working for 11 years to encourage the Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of conduct for all its Justices, whether appointed by Democratic or Republican Presidents. Chief Justice Roberts had his chance to act, and he refused. Now, we will—and it’s well within our constitutional authority to act. These reforms would apply in equal force to all Justices and—importantly—reinforce the Court’s legitimacy, contrary to the unfounded assertions by Senate Judiciary Republicans. It’s time for the nine Supreme Court Justices to abide by a code of conduct just like every other federal official. We look forward to working with our colleagues on its consideration before the full Senate.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said the legislation would bring Supreme Court justices in line with other federal officials and is a “crucial first step in restoring confidence” in the high court.

“Unlike every other federal official, Supreme Court justices are not bound by a code of ethical conduct. They are the most powerful judges in America and yet they are not required to follow even the most basic ethical standards,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he supports the committee’s work and looks forward to working with his Democratic colleagues “to make progress” on the bill.

“It’s time for the highest court in the land to be held to the highest ethical standards,” he said in a statement. “Today’s markup reaffirms Senate Democrats’ commitment to rebuild our country’s faith in our judiciary and reestablish legitimacy in our courts. We must ensure that the Supreme Court is not in the pocket of the ultra-wealthy and MAGA extremists.”

The proposal, though, is highly unlikely to become law due to the opposition from Republicans in the Senate and House. GOP senators have painted the revelations about Thomas as part of a broader attempt by Democrats to delegitimize the high court’s conservative majority.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, put the bill’s prospects in stark terms, saying, “This ill-conceived effort in the name of reforming the court will go nowhere in the United States Senate.

“This is a bill to destroy a conservative court. It’s a bill to create a situation where conservative judges can be disqualified by statute. It’s a bill to rearrange the makeup of how the court governs itself, and it’s an assault on the court itself,” he said during the Judiciary Committee meeting.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Witnesses in Georgia Trump probe suspected of ‘testi-lying’

February 16, 2023

A Georgia grand jury is concerned witnesses lied to them during their investigation of former President Donald Trump and his allies’ efforts to interfere in the state’s 2020 election—raising the specter of potential charges, reports USA Today.

Descriptions of the alleged lies could be unveiled on Thursday, February 16, when parts of the grand jury’s long-awaited report on the Trump probe are made public. Indeed, although the witnesses won’t be identified and no one has been charged, prosecutors could pursue perjury charges as leverage to broaden the investigation, according to legal experts.

Charges for lying to investigators or perjury are rare because they can be difficult to prove and peripheral to the main case, according to legal experts. But federal prosecutors have convicted witnesses in recent years of lying to authorities during previous investigations of Trump.

“That expands the scope of potential defendants quite a bit,” said Clark Cunningham, a law professor at Georgia State University. “It also opens up the possibility for the district attorney to proceed immediately with perjury indictments, which would be pretty straightforward.”

A perjury charge in Georgia, which carries a maximum ten-year prison term, could be used to leverage testimony for more serious conspiracy charges carrying a maximum 20-year term, according to legal experts. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis hired an expert in conspiracy cases against Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations and legal experts said she may pursue RICO charges in this case.

A RICO charge alleges the suspect participated in at least two crimes, as part of a pattern of criminal activity. State and federal prosecutor—including Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani—have wielded RICO laws in recent decades to combat organized crime and drug dealing. Dozens of charges qualify to build a RICO case, including perjury, bribery and tampering with witnesses or evidence.

Willis has brought RICO cases against Atlanta school officials and alleged gang members, which is why some legal experts expect her to use the statute in the Trump investigation.

Tom Morgan, a criminology professor at Western Carolina University and a former district attorney in DeKalb County, Georgia, said he probably wouldn’t pursue stand-alone perjury charges from a grand jury because those cases are difficult to prove. But he said perjury felonies could become part of a broader RICO case.

“It makes the other counts stronger in the RICO case because it shows a pattern of covering up,” Morgan said. “Juries don’t like that.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said that the part of the report to be released on Thursday “discusses the concern that some witnesses may have lied under oath during their testimony to the grand jury.”

Defenses against perjury charges include witnesses thinking they were telling the truth or making a false statement without knowing it was a mistake.

An average of fewer than 30 people per year during the last decade have been charged with perjury in Georgia and fewer than ten per year have been convicted, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Yearly convictions twice peaked at 17 during the last decade and there were none last year, according to the agency.

“In my career, I’m not aware of a perjury indictment based on grand jury testimony,” said Morgan, a former 12-year prosecutor. “It’s very rare.”

Samuel Gross, a law professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, said perjury is common, but prosecution of it is rare. Anecdotally, in civil cases, witnesses sometimes lie in response to questions they consider unrelated to the point of the case, Gross said. In criminal cases, police might lie about the justification for a search or defendants might lie to avoid being found guilty, he said.

“Perjury is really, really, really common,” said Gross, referring to a phrase he doesn’t like: “testi-lying.”

Federal prosecutors have charged witnesses with lying to investigators, either as stand-alone charges or in combination with broader cases.

In Fulton County, Willis asked the special purpose grand jury to investigate attempts to interfere with the 2020 election. The inquiry covered Trump’s call January 2, 2021, to state Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” enough votes for Trump to win the state. Trump has denied wrongdoing and described the call as “perfect.”

Another aspect of the inquiry deals with the Trump campaign recruiting an alternate slate of presidential electors, in an attempt switch Georgia’s results from President Joe Biden to Trump.

The 75 witnesses who were summoned included Trump advisers such as Giuliani; Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina); and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia).

Giuliani, who has been told he is a target of the investigation, testified to state lawmakers about alleged voter fraud. Graham called Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks after the election. Gingrich advocated a strategy to have the House decide the election, which Trump would have won because a majority of state delegations were Republican.

Giuliani, Graham, and Gingrich each have each denied wrongdoing. No charges have been filed and their testimony hasn’t been revealed.

Clark Cunningham said that, if he were Willis, he wouldn’t charge Trump immediately—even if he could—because the former president has numerous defenses that could slow down the case. Instead, Cunningham said people charged with perjury could become cooperating witnesses against higher level conspirators.

“That puts the district attorney in a position to immediately start working with defendants who might become cooperating witnesses and could really open things up,” Cunningham said.

Research contact: @USATODAY

‘Decisions are imminent’: Georgia prosecutor nears charging decisions in Trump probe

January 26, 2023

The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election indicated on Tuesday, January 24,  that decisions on whether to seek the indictment of the former president or his associates were “imminent,” reports Politico.

“Decisions are imminent,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said during a Tuesday court hearing called by the Georgia trial court judge overseeing the “special purpose grand jury” that Willis has used to gather evidence over the last year.

Willis’ remark came as she urged the superior court judge, Robert McBurney, to oppose calls to publicly release the findings of her yearlong probe, which she conducted alongside the special grand jury to examine Trump and his inner circle.

Willis has spent the last year investigating Trump’s and his allies’ effort to reverse the election results in Georgia, despite losing the state by more than 11,000 votes.

The special grand jury probed Trump’s January 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—asking him to “find” just enough votes to put him ahead of Joe Biden in the state.

And it pursued evidence about Trump’s broader national effort to subvert the election, calling top allies like his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Attorney John Eastman, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

The special grand jury concluded its investigation earlier this month, dissolving in early January, and recommended that its findings be released publicly. McBurney then called for a hearing to discuss whether to follow the panel’s recommendation or maintain the secrecy of the report. Willis told the judge that making the report public could jeopardize impending prosecutions.

“In this case, the state understands the media’s inquiry and the world’s interest. But we have to be mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights,” Willis said, emphasizing that multiple people could face charges.

Tuesday’s discussion was the result of Georgia’s unusual grand jury law, which permits prosecutors to impanel a “special purpose grand jury” that has no power to make formal indictments but can help prosecutors gather evidence about a specific topic. If Willis opts to pursue charges against Trump or others, she needs to present her evidence to a traditional grand jury, which could then issue indictments.

Thomas Clyde, an attorney representing several media outlets supporting the release of the report, urged McBurney to side with the grand jurors rather than Willis.

“We believe the report should be released now and in its entirety,” Clyde said.

He noted that findings in criminal investigations are often released publicly even while investigations and grand jury proceedings continue.

McBurney noted that Willis’ probe has been accompanied by an extraordinary release of information and evidence by the House January 6 select committee and from witnesses being called before a federal grand jury probing the same matters, none of which had derailed Willis’ probe. He also noted that there was little to stop individual grand jurors from simply telling others about the findings in their report.

But McBurney said he wanted more time to consider the arguments and said any ruling he made would provide significant advance notice before the potential release of the report.

Research contact: @politico

Lindsey Graham: GOP would wither on the vine without Trump

May 10, 2021

In a May 6 appearance on Fox News, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) —Donald Trump’s frequent golf partner and protector—said that the GOP could not “grow” or “move forward” without the leadership of the former president, the HuffPost reports.

Speaking to Fox’s Sean Hannity, Graham weighed in on the looming GOP purge of the House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from the party’s leadership team over her opposition to Trump’s claims of election piracy and his instigation of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

And he wasn’t all that sympathetic to her plight.

“Can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no,” he said on Fox News on Thursday night. “I’ve always liked Liz Cheney, but she’s made the determination that the Republican Party can’t grow with President Trump. I’ve determined we can’t grow without him.” 

The reaction was eruptive—and the pushback from liberals was immediate.

 “He sounds like a ’90s R&B singer, like, ’I can’t go on, I can’t imagine my future without you,” said commentator Jason Johnson of Morgan State University on MSNBC. “As usual, Lindsey Graham has about as much political integrity and stability as a weather vane.”

And on Twitter, Graham’s critics were quick to similarly call him out: @darth tweeted at 10:11 p.m., “clearest admission the republican party is now merely a trump cult.”

Moments later, @JamesSurowiecki tweeted, “In two tries, Donald Trump never managed to get even 47% of the popular vote, and yet Lindsey Grahm thinks the GOP can’t live without him. That is such a grim commentary on the state of the Republican Party.”

And the next tweet, out of many, from @perryspeaks1, opined, “This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen. Lindsey Grahm clearly had his spine surgically removed. No other explanation.”

At press time, Graham had not elaborated on his messaging.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Republicans advance Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination despite Democratic boycott

October 23, 2020

No Democrats? No problem! The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday, October 22, to advance President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Courtwith confirmation as Democrats boycotted the session in protest, The New York Times reported,

Indeed, majority Republicans skirted the panel’s official rules to recommend her in the absence of their Democratic colleagues. Judiciary Committee rules that require members of the minority party to be present to conduct official business.

Democrats—livid over the extraordinarily speedy process during the current election—spurned the committee vote altogether and forced Republicans to break their own rules to muscle through the nomination. Without the votes to block the judge in either the committee or the full Senate, though, their action was “purely symbolic,” the Times said.

The lopsided 12-to-0 outcome set up a vote by the full Senate to confirm Judge Barrett on Monday, a month to the day after Trump nominated her to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If all goes according to plan, the president and his party would win a coveted achievement just eight days before the election.

That would fulfill the president’s hopes of stacking a conservative SCOTUS, should he need the judicial body to confirm his victory following the November 3 presidential election.

Gloating over the illicit move, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the committee, said just before the vote.“This is why we all run,” “It’s moments like this that make everything you go through matter.”

According to the Times, Judge Barrett, a 48-year-old appeals court judge who has styled herself in the mold of the man she calls her mentor, former Justice Antonin Scalia, promises to shift the court meaningfully to the right, entrenching a 6-to-3 conservative majority.

The Times predicts, “Her presence will likely shape American society for decades to come, with potentially sweeping implications for corporate power and the environment, abortion rights and gay rights, and a wide range of other policy issues including health care access, gun safety and religious freedom.”

Democrats have sharply opposed Judge Barrett on policy grounds. But their goal on Thursday was to tarnish the legitimacy of her confirmation, arguing that Republicans had no right to fill the seat vacated just over a month ago by the death of Justice Ginsburg, when millions of Americans were already voting.

They were particularly angry that Republicans had reversed themselves since 2016, when they refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, citing the election nine months later.

“Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote in the Judiciary Committee,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said at a news conference on the steps of the Capitol, where he raised his voice to be heard over the cries of protesters opposed to the nomination.

“We are voting with our feet. We are standing together. And we are standing against this mad rush to jam through a Supreme Court nomination just days, days before an election,” Mr. Schumer said.

Inside the hearing room where the vote unfolded, Democrats’ empty chairs held large posters of Americans whose health care coverage they argued could evaporate if Mr. Trump’s nominee were to side with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act when it hears a Republican challenge to the law next month.

“I regret that we could not do it the normal way,” Graham said, “but what I don’t regret is reporting her out of committee.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Dozens of Amy Coney Barrett’s Notre Dame colleagues call for halt to nomination

October 15, 2020

In a powerful showing of unity, 88 faculty members at the University of Notre Dame, where Amy Coney Barrett is a law school professor, said she should call for a halt to her Supreme Court nomination until after the November 3 presidential election, The Huffington Post reports. 

In a letter dated October10—but posted online on Tuesday, October 13—Barrett’s colleagues congratulated her on her nomination, adding: “It is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election.”

The signatories hailed from the university’s political science, sociology, history and other departments—with none from the law school.

“We ask that you take this unprecedented step for three reasons.” Barrett’s professional colleagues said:

First, voting for the next president is already underway. According to the United States Election Project (https://electproject.github.io/Early-Vote-2020G/index.html), more than seven million people have already cast their ballots, and millions more are likely to vote before election day. The rushed nature of your nomination process, which you certainly recognize as an exercise in raw power politics, may effectively deprive the American people of a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court justice. You are not, of course, responsible for the anti-democratic machinations driving your nomination. Nor are you complicit in the Republican hypocrisy of fast-tracking your nomination weeks before a presidential election when many of the same senators refused to grant Merrick Garland so much as a hearing a full year before the last election. However, you can refuse to be party to such maneuvers. We ask that you honor the democratic process and insist the hearings be put on hold until after the voters have made their choice. Following the election, your nomination would proceed, or not, in accordance with the wishes of the winning candidate.

Next, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat on the court remain open until a new president was installed. At your nomination ceremony at the White House, you praised Justice Ginsburg as “a woman of enormous talent and consequence, whose life of public service serves as an example to us all.” Your nomination just days after Ginsburg’s death was unseemly and a repudiation of her legacy. Given your admiration for Justice Ginsburg, we ask that you repair the injury to her memory by calling for a pause in the nomination until the next president is seated.

Finally, your nomination comes at a treacherous moment in the United States. Our politics are consumed by polarization, mistrust, and fevered conspiracy theories. Our country is shaken by pandemic and economic suffering. There is violence in the streets of American cities. The politics of your nomination, as you surely understand, will further inflame our civic wounds, undermine confidence in the court, and deepen the divide among ordinary citizens, especially if you are seated by a Republican Senate weeks before the election of a Democratic president and congress. You have the opportunity to offer an alternative to all that by demanding that your nomination be suspended until after the election. We implore you to take that step.

Senate hearings for Barrett’s confirmation began Monday and continued into Tuesday, with the nominee dodging Democrats’ questions on health care, marriage equality and abortion rights, the HuffPost reports.

Senate Republicans appear to have the necessary majority to confirm Barrett to the nation’s most powerful court. If she’s confirmed, it would cement conservatives’ hold on the court likely for years to come, with major rulings expected soon on health care, abortion, LGBTQ rights, and more.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump must “VETO!” as Congress votes against him

March 18, 2019

Just say no.” While that slogan is most-often associated with former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign, it also represents what Congressional Democrats have been articulating for the past two years to the G.O.P.

And indeed, the Republicans long have warned the president—when he stood by Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi; when he separated migrant children from their parents at the border; when he supported Putin in Helsinki; and when he declared a national emergency to pay for his border wall—that he should not push them too far.

And it finally has come to pass: This week, despite the best efforts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to keep them in line, Republicans broke ranks—delivering a series of “remarkable … bipartisan rebukes to the president,” The New York Times reported.

On March 13, with seven Republicans crossing the aisle, the Senate joined the Democrat-led House in voting to end American military aid to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen in protest over the killing of Khashoggi.

On March 14, the Times reported, the House voted unanimously on a nonbinding resolution to make public the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.

And hours later on that same day, 12 Republican senators abandoned the president to pass legislation, already adopted by the House, that would block Mr. Trump from declaring a national emergency to build his border wall—an act of defiance that he has vowed to overturn with the first veto of his presidency. (“VETO!” the president tweeted at 3:16 p.m. on March 14.)

“We’re saying today, ‘No, we do not acquiesce to this,’” Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said after voting to block the emergency declaration, the Times reported. “We do not agree that the president should be able to come in and go against the express intention of the Congress when it comes to these appropriated funds” for his wall.

Murkowski added in a statement on her website, “”I take very seriously my oath to uphold the Constitution, and my respect for the balance within the separation of powers. Article 1 provides that the power to appropriate lies with the legislative branch. When the executive branch goes around the express intention of Congress on matters within its jurisdiction, we must speak up or legislative acquiescence will erode our constitutional authority. We can and must address the President’s very legitimate concerns over border security, but we must not do it at the expense of ceding Congress’ power of the purse.”

According to the news outlet, “The series of votes vividly demonstrated a newfound willingness to stand up to the president among some of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill. And they underscored a deep frustration in Congress about the president’s supposed scorn for a coequal branch of government.”

“We have an issue that has been litigated and adjudicated through Congress. I mean, what was more litigated than this very question? We had a government shutdown for crying out loud,” said Senator Patrick Toomey ( R-Pennsylvania) referring to funding for the border wall, which Mr. Trump is trying to secure with an emergency declaration that would circumvent Congress.

“It’s about separation of powers,” Toomey said. “It’s about respecting the principles of the Constitution.”

But for those who continue in lockstep with the president, the votes were merely a challenge to his authority that he would easily overcome. “He feels good,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a close ally of Mr. Trump who, the Times said, talked to the president shortly after the vote. “He said, ‘My veto will be sustained?’ I said, ‘Yeah, overwhelmingly.’ He feels like his commitment to build the wall is moving forward.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Senators Graham and McConnell doubt ‘rogue player’ Saudi scenario

October 17, 2018

Although President Donald Trump has suggested that “rogue players” were responsible for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, two of his most avid GOP acolytes are not supporting that version of the story.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who adamantly backed the POTUS’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, during the Judicial Committee hearings late last month—and who is said to be bucking for a Cabinet position within the administration—came out strongly against the Saudi Crown Prince on October 16, during an appearance on Fox & Friends.

“I’ve been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate,” Graham said of the Saudi leadership. However, he commented, “This guy [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] is a wrecking ball. Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it.”

The observations by Graham—described by Bloomberg as “an influential foreign policy hawk in Congress who frequently advises President Donald Trump”—represented some of the harshest words yet made in public by a senior Republican on the Khashoggi disappearance, that news outlet said. He said he’d support efforts to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.”

“He had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey and to expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused,” Graham said on Fox. “I was on the floor every time defending Saudi Arabia because it’s a good ally. There’s a difference between a country and an individual. The MBS figure is to me toxic. He can never be a world leader on the world stage.”

Graham also signed off on an October 10 letter to President Trump that aimed to trigger both an investigation into the alleged murder and sanctions for the Saudis.

The letter read, in part, “The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights, which includes ‘torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, and other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of person.’ Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi. Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.”

The other signatories on the letter included Senators Bob Corker (Tennessee) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who are, respectively the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), who is ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (of which Graham, himself is chairman). In addition, a number of other legislators, both Democratic and Republican, added their names to the correspondence.

In addition, an October 16 report by Bloomberg noted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)—who has supported Trump on every major policy effort, from deconstructing Obamacare to the tax bill to the Supreme Court nomination— said the disappearance and possible murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi looks “extremely disturbing” but the United States needs to determine what role Saudi Arabia’s government may have played before responding.

“Clearly we need to find out what happened before deciding what action should be taken,” McConnell said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “I can’t imagine if what we think happened, that we would take no action.”

Asked whether that action would include halting arms sales to the Saudis, McConnell said he’s not ready to say which form of action he would take. He that the president did “the right thing” by sending Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to Saudi Arabia on October 15 to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Research contact: @DonnaAN1