WASHINGTON — A Hawaii congresswoman referred to President Trump as Saudi Arabia’s “bitch” in a tweet today criticizing Trump’s Tuesday decision to not punish Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
The CIA reportedly assessed that the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was traced back directly to MBS. The CIA reportedly dismissed Trump’s earlier suggestion that the hit team that went from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul to kill and dismember Khashoggi, a regime critic who had been living in exile for a year in Virginia, may have been rogue elements disconnected from any official state orders.
“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in a statement released by the White House on Tuesday.
“That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the president added, calling the regime “a great ally.”
Trump told reporters on the White House lawn afterward, when asked why he was “siding with the Saudis over your own intelligence community,” that “it’s all about ‘America First.'”
“We’re not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders, and let Russia, China, and everybody else have them. It’s all about, for me — very simple — it’s ‘America First,'” he said. “Saudi Arabia — if we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof. I’ve kept them down. They’ve helped me keep them down.”
That prompted a response today from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii):
Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First.”
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) November 21, 2018
Gabbard is allied with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in wanting to stop assistance to the Saudis to wage war in Yemen.
“The President indicates that Saudi Arabia is the lesser two evils compared to Iran and so the US won’t punish Saudi Arabia for the brutal killing and dismemberment of a dissident journalist in their consulate. I disagree,” Paul tweeted Tuesday. “We should, at the very least, NOT reward Saudi Arabia with our sophisticated armaments that they in turn use to bomb civilians.”
“I’m pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First. I’m also pretty sure John Bolton wrote it,” Paul added of Trump’s written statement on the Khashoggi murder.
Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Trump on Tuesday reminding him that, under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, his administration has to issue to Congress a “determination and a decision on the imposition of sanctions on that foreign person or persons” in the Khashoggi murder.
“On October 10, we sent a letter requesting that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with ‘respect to any foreign person responsible’ for Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder,” Corker and Menendez wrote. “In light of recent developments, including the Saudi government’s acknowledgement that Saudi officials killed Mr. Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate, we request that your determination specifically address whether Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. We expect to receive your determination within 120 days of our original request.”