On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued a truly strange statement that seemed to at least tacitly forgive Saudi Arabia for murdering a Washington Post journalist. But he was mostly alone in his decision to side with the oil giant over the American intelligence agencies who reportedly concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the murder.
Trump tried to frame his decision to let the Saudis get away with murder as an “America First” policy. He backed it up by pointing to oil and arms deals that he’s struck with the kingdom.
Just about every Democrat lined up to tell the president that he’s not supposed to let foreign powers go around murdering American residents.
The strongest condemnation came from Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard who called him “Saudi Arabia’s b***h.”
Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not “America First.”
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) November 21, 2018
Bernie Sanders called Trump’s statement “rambling and dishonest.”
Today President Trump, in a rambling and dishonest statement, tried to defend the despotic Saudi regime and cast doubt on the CIA’s conclusion that the crown prince was personally involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 20, 2018
Congressman Eric Swalwell suggested that Trump’s defense of oil prices was a worthless ploy.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 21, 2018
Republicans also weighed in on the president’s decision to give the Saudi’s a pass. Rand Paul wrote that Trump’s statement “is Saudi Arabia First, not America First.”
I’m pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First. I’m also pretty sure John Bolton wrote it.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) November 20, 2018
Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan called the statement “repugnant.”
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) November 20, 2018
Senator Bob Corker wrote that it seemed the White House was moonlighting as a public relations firm for the Saudis.
I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. https://t.co/MQ4JsoQtqk
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) November 20, 2018
Though distressing, the move to support Saudi Arabia was hardly a surprise. Trump has been suggesting for a while that he wouldn’t be backing away from the country.
During October, whenever a reporter got close enough to ask the president about the country, he mentioned the arms deal, though he could never quite remember exactly what they had agreed upon or how many jobs it would create (though he often bragged about both.)
While almost all of the voices in Congress have condemned Trump’s statement, there are two notable exceptions: Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. The Republican leaders are staying deafeningly silent on the president’s statement.