Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said that the United States’ moral integrity is undercut if its leaders do not criticize allies when they commit human rights violations.
Rubio, who made the remark during an interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” was specifically referring to the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a vocal critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared over a week ago after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and there’s widespread speculation that he may have been murdered.
According to Rubio, the U.S. rightly condemns corrupt leaders like Vladimir Putin in Russia, Bashar Assad in Syria and Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and should absolutely condemn the Saudi regime if the allegation is proven true — regardless of whether we are foes or allies.
“Our moral credibility, our ability to call Putin a murderer because he is, our ability to call Assad a murderer because he is, our ability to confront Maduro in Venezuela or any of these other human rights atrocities like what we see in China, all of that is undermined and compromised if we somehow decide that because an ally who is important did that, we’re not going to call it out,” he said.
Khashoggi, a writer for the Washington Post, walked into the consulate on Oct. 2 to fill out paperwork so he could marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile in Virginia after leaving his home country last year.
Rubio said he believes the White House will do something significant if Khashoggi is found dead and Saudi Arabia is responsible, adding that he knows Congress will respond quickly.
“If this is proven to be true, there is going to be a response from Congress. It’s going to be nearly unanimous, it’s going to be swift and it’s going to go pretty far and that could include arms sales but it could include a bunch of other things as well.”
On Saturday, President Trump said he would not consider canceling the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia regardless of what happened to Khashoggi. Trump said “we would be punishing ourselves” by stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia because it is a “tremendous order for our companies” and that the Middle Eastern nation would simply purchase its weapons from Russia.
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