Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday on Fox News that he wants to see Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman forced out of his position after the mysterious disappearance of activist Jamal Khashoggi.
“This guy has got to go,” Graham, R-S.C., said on “Fox and Friends.” “Saudi Arabia, if you’re listening: There are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself.”
He added, “The MBS figure is, to me, toxic. He can never be a world leader on the world stage.”
Khashoggi vanished two weeks ago during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials said they fear Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. Saudis have called the allegations “baseless.”
Khashoggi had written critically about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of King Salman, for The Washington Post. The prince is next in the line to the throne, and his rise to power prompted the writer’s self-imposed exile in the U.S.
Asked who should replace him, Graham said, “That’s up to them. Not my job.”
“I know this: Nothing what happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it,” Graham said.
He added, “I’m not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy is in charge.”
Graham’s remarks come as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed Tuesday in Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman over the disappearance of Khashoggi.
Pompeo is set to visit the place where Khashoggi was last seen.
A fired-up Graham on Tuesday called the crown prince a “wrecking ball.”
“I feel used and abused. I was on the floor every time defending Saudi Arabia because they’re a good ally,” Graham said.
President Donald Trump, after speaking with King Salman, had dispatched Pompeo on Monday to speak to the monarch of the world’s top oil exporter about Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!” Trump tweeted Monday.
Khashoggi has criticized Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a driving ban for women—policies seen as initiatives of the crown prince.
Fox News’ Amy Lieu and The Associated Press contributed to this report.