- Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic congresswoman in Hawaii, has criticised President Donald Trump for standing by Saudi Arabia despite acknowledging it may have ordered the killing of the Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.
- Trump defended his standing by the kingdom by saying he was putting “America first.”
- Gabbard wrote on Twitter: “Being Saudi Arabia’s b—- is not ‘America First.'”
- Gabbard previously drew criticism for casting doubts on reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on civilians.
Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii referred to President Donald Trump as “Saudi Arabia’s b—-” on Wednesday over his support of the country’s leadership despite acknowledging it may have ordered the killing of the Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.
“Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia’s b—- is not ‘America First,'” Gabbard tweeted.
In a statement on Tuesday, Trump declined to personally blame or take action against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even while acknowledging that the de facto Saudi leader may have ordered Khashoggi’s killing.
Trump argued that avoiding condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s leadership helped the US pursue its interests abroad. “Very simply it is called America First!” the end of his written statement said.
Gabbard, a 37-year old Iraq War combat veteran, has been discussed as a potential 2020 presidential candidate.
Gabbard has been vocal about the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, saying last week that the US needed to immediately end its support for what she called “Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen.”
Gabbard previously drew scrutiny for meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad without informing her party’s leadership. Assad’s use of violence to crush Arab Spring protesters in Syria launched a civil war in 2011 that has seen millions displaced and hundreds of thousands killed. Gabbard often come to Assad’s defence, expressing scepticism that his government uses chemical weapons against civilians.
Though the CIA has reportedly assessed with “high confidence” that the Saudi crown prince ordered the killing of Khashoggi, Trump said in Tuesday’s statement that he could not be sure that was the case.
“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.
Khashoggi, a Saudi critic who lived in the US and wrote columns for The Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Trump’s statement was met with widespread condemnation in response, even from top GOP allies.
Trump, who has often used economic arguments for standing by the Saudis, credited Saudi Arabia this week with helping keep oil prices low, both in his statement and on Twitter.
“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world,” his statement said. “They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world.”