Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) today had a blistering response to President Donald Trump's statement on the death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.
Khashoggi, who moved to the U.S. earlier this year, disappeared during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. The Saudi government admits he was killed but claims it was not a government-sanctioned assassination. However, The Washington Post reported Friday that it was in fact Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who ordered Khashoggi's killing.
In a statement titled "America First," Trump called Khashoggi's killing "an unacceptable and horrible crime." But the president also pointed to the Saudi government's claims. "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 wrote, adding that "we may never know all of the facts surrounding" Khashoggi's death. The president also touted the Saudi government's plans to invest in the U.S., particularly via "the purchase of military equipment from" American defense contractors.
That wasn't enough for Amash, who blasted Trump's statement on Twittter as "repugnant":
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) November 20, 2018
For more than a month, Amash has been pushing to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for Khashoggi's murder. In October, the congressman announced he was co-sponsoring legislation that would block U.S. military assistance and arms sales to Saudi Arabia unless the kingdom was found to have had no involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.
Even before Khashoggi vanished, Amash repeatedly called for the U.S. to halt arms sales to the Saudis, in part due to the Saudi government's involvement in the Yemeni Civil War. In fiscal year 2017, the U.S. sold $5.5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Amash wasn't the only libertarian-leaning Republican to criticize Trump today. In a series of tweets, Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) also slammed the president's statement. "I'm pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First. I'm also pretty sure John Bolton wrote it," Paul wrote, referring to Trump's national security adviser.
Trump, for his part, appears to be sticking to his guns. "It's a very complex situation. It's a shame, but it is what it is," he told reporters today. "It's America first."