- Sen. Marco Rubio promised a “strong congressional response” against Saudi Arabia if the country is found to be responsible for the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Rubio’s comments come a day after Trump vowed “severe punishment” for the US ally if they were found responsible.
- Turkish officials believe Khashoggi, a sharp critic of the Saudi Arabian government, was killed last week inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi officials have denied the allegations.
Sen. Marco Rubio promised a “strong congressional response” against Saudi Arabia if the country is found to be responsible for the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I believe the Trump administration will do something, the president has said that,” Rubio said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning. “But if he doesn’t, Congress will, that, I can tell you, with 100% certainty.”
The Florida Republican continued: “With almost full unanimity across the board, Republicans and Democrats, there will be a very strong congressional response if, in fact, Saudis lured him into that consulate, murdered him, and cut up his body and disposed of it.”
Rubio on Trump’s response on the missing Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi: “I’m glad the President didn’t tie his hands in terms of exactly what we are going to do. But it needs to be very strong and meaningful, it can’t be symbolic, it can’t be just words” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/1kdmXxPfQz
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 14, 2018
The Saudi Arabian journalist was declared missing last week after he did not emerge from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after 11 hours. Turkish authorities believe he was killed inside the consulate.
Khashoggi, who writes for the Washington Post’s global opinion section, came to be known as a sharp critic of the Saudi Arabian government. President Donald Trump said in a “60 Minutes” interview that it’s possible the Saudis could be responsible for his disappearance and if so, he would inflict “severe punishment.”
Rubio told host Jake Tapper though Trump hasn’t been publicly adamant about his plan for retaliation, the US cannot continue “business as usual” and any response “can’t be symbolic.”
“No matter how important they might be to our Iranian strategy, our ability to be a voice for human rights … is undermined and compromised if we are not willing to confront something as atrocious as what’s allegedly happened here,” Rubio said. “How can we criticise [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for killing journalists if we’re prepared to allow an ally to do the same?”
.@marcorubio to @jaketapper on Secretary Mnuchin attending economic summit in Saudi Arabia: "I don't think we should continue as business as usual until we know exactly what's happened here… I don't think he should go." #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/8U28j5jZlk
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) October 14, 2018
He said he didn’t think any government officials should go to Saudi Arabia, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s planned trip to an economic conference October 23, “until we know exactly what happened here.”
Though Trump called the allegations “really terrible and disgusting,” he told reporters on his way to a Kentucky rally Saturday that scrapping arms sales deals would hurt US companies and jobs more than it would punish Saudi Arabia.
“We’re just hurting ourselves,” Trump said.
Saudi officials have flatly denied the allegation and claimed Khashoggi left the consulate but failed to provide definitive proof.
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