In a closed-door meeting with senators Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis strongly defended President Trump’s support of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, The Washington Post reports. According to reports, Pompeo stated that “there is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”
In the meeting, Pompeo also argued that without U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen—which has brought the small country to the brink of famine—the conflict and the threat posed to U.S. interests and Americans “would be a hell of a lot worse.” The meeting comes before an expected vote on whether the U.S. will dramatically scale back support for Saudi Arabia. U.S. support of the kingdom and its controversial crown prince has come under greater public scrutiny since the October murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. “All we would achieve from an American drawdown is a stronger Iran and a reinvigorated ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” Pompeo said.