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Following the brutal killing of Saudi dissident and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, one year ago, the Saudi government became something of a toxic commodity in American politics. Several high-profile lobbying and public relations firms dropped the Saudis as a client. Think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, severed ties with the Saudi government. Businesses pulled out of a major conference in Riyadh shortly after Khashoggi’s death.
As the U.S. intelligence community, and the United Nations, were determining that Saudi Arabia was culpable in the killing, members of Congress demanded accountability. Democrats led the charge on a series of bills that would have halted U.S. arms sales to the kingdom and ended U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition’s disastrous war in Yemen. Republicans were outraged too. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who claimed on “Fox & Friends” to have once been Saudi Arabia’s “biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate,” announced shortly after Khashoggi’s death that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “has got to go.” The crown prince denies a role in Khashoggi’s death; the U.N. sees credible evidence warranting further investigation.