07:39 - Source: CNN
Sasse: Khashoggi won't be 'swept under the rug'
CNN  — 

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska tells CNN that the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi will not be “swept under the rug,” and that he believes there should be an “international investigation” into what happened.

“I have lots of confidence in the US intelligence community,” Sasse told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. “And I think that they’re building information that’s very useful for the President to understand, and I hope he’s listening to all that information – not just the arguments that are coming from Saudi officials.”

Sources told CNN that a group of Saudi men – whom Turkish officials believe are connected to Khashoggi’s apparent killing – were led by a high-ranking intelligence officer, with one source saying he was close to the inner circle of the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked on Wednesday whether Saudi officials had told him whether Khashoggi was dead or alive, he responded: “I don’t want to talk about any of the facts, and they didn’t want to either.”

“They want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way,” Pompeo said, “and I think that’s a reasonable thing to do to give them that opportunity, and then we’ll all get to judge.”

President Donald Trump has come out strongly against curtailing arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying that the economic benefit it brings to the US is too great to jeopardize.

Sasse told Amanpour that arms sales cannot be “the end in themselves.”

“The US is not selling arms because we’re primarily interested in the economic consequences of those transactions. The US uses arm sales as a tool of advancing US, and we believe global, interests over time.”

Asked whether he would vote to sanction Saudi Arabia should it be proven that the country’s leadership ordered the death of Khashoggi, Sasse said that “everything needs to be on the table.”

“I think the Saudis need to understand there’s a big appetite in Washington to put lots of stuff on the table. This is not a small matter that will be swept under the rug.”

CNN’s Gul Tuysuz, Nic Robertson, Tim Lister, Clarissa Ward, Laura Smith-Spark and Bard Wilkinson contributed to this report.