Sen. Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, joined the ranks of GOP lawmakers who are criticizing President Donald Trump for his decision to defend Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “I disagree with the president’s assessment,” Lee said on NBC. “It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen.” Lee said that the intelligence he has seen suggests the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by the crown prince.
This isn’t the first time Lee has split with Trump when Saudi Arabia is concerned, particularly relating to the U.S. support for the military campaign in Yemen. And he made it clear that his views on the Yemen conflict certainly affected how he saw the Khashoggi killing. “Now look, I don’t have access to everything the president sees. I’m not sure what he’s relying on. Intelligence I’ve seen suggests that this was ordered by the crown prince, and is yet another reason why I’ve been pushing … to get us out of fighting Saudi Arabia’s civil war effort in Yemen against the Houthis,” Lee said.
Lee, who said he was “certain” the next Congress will look into Trump’s ties to Saudi Arabia, wasn’t the only Republican who spoke up against Trump’s steadfast support for the Saudi ruler. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa told CNN that while Saudi Arabia is a “great strategic partner,” the United States’ commitment to human rights and the rule of law means means that Congress must “absolutely … consider further action.”
Democrats, meanwhile, directly questioned whether Trump’s financial ties with Saudi Arabia were driving his response to the murder. “I have been briefed by the CIA,” Schiff told CNN. “And while I cannot discuss the contents of the briefing in any way, I can say that I think the President is being dishonest with the American people.”