US senator Rand Paul calls for removing MbS 'for ordering Khashoggi hit'
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has to be "replaced", US senator Rand Paul said on Sunday, calling Riyadh's explanation of Jamal Khashoggi's death "insulting".
After a fortnight of denials, Saudi authorities admitted on Saturday that the Washington Post columnist, a prominent critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after entering the consulate in Turkey on 2 October.
But it has faced a growing chorus of incredulity over its belated explanation that he died in a "brawl", as world powers demand answers and the whereabouts of his body.
"I think it's insulting to anyone who's analyzing this with any kind of intelligent background to think that, oh, a fistfight led to a dismemberment with a bone saw," Rand Paul told Fox News.
"There's no way 15 people were sent to Turkey to kill a dissident without the approval of the crown Prince," he added, saying he was certain Mohammed bin Salman directed the killing.
"And that's why I think we cannot continue to have relations with him. And so I think he's gonna have to be replaced, frankly."
Paul's comments come amid a chorus of criticism directed at the young de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia from US senators.
Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN on Saturday that he believed Mohammed bin Salman was behind the killing of Khashoggi.
The crown prince has "now crossed a line and there has to be a punishment and a price paid for that," Corker said.
Earlier, Democrat senator Dick Durbin said the US should formally expel Saudi Arabia's ambassador in response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
"We ought to formally expel the Saudi ambassador from the United States until there is a completion of a third-party investigation into this kidnap, murder and god-knows-what-followed that occurred in Istanbul," Durbin told NBC news.
The senator added that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "has his fingerprints all over" Khashoggi's death.
Previously, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake had threatened tough punitive action by Congress against Saudi Arabia, including a possible halt of military sales, if it were confirmed that Khashoggi was indeed killed inside the Saudi consulate.
Speaking late Saturday after a campaign rally in Nevada, Trump said he needs to learn more about the killing and will be working with Congress on the US response. He also said he will talk soon to Prince Mohammed bin Salman.