Monday on MSNBC’s “Deadline,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said President Donald Trump’s rhetoric emboldened ”foreign authoritarian leaders,” which was contributing to human right atrocities like the disappearance and likely killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
When asked about the president’s “rogue killers” comments this morning, Van Hollen said, “It’s shameful that the president of the United States would allow himself to be used as the mouthpiece for the Saudi regime’s cover-up story here. Look, here’s what we know. We know this from press reports, that U.S. intelligence agencies knew that the Saudi government—not rogue elements—the Saudi government, was trying to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia. When that didn’t happen and he went to the consulate for personal reasons, they told him the day to come back. So the Saudi government knew when he was coming back.”
He continued, “The notion that the crown prince or the highest members of the Saudi government did not know that Khashoggi was walking into their consulate that day, even as they had those two Saudi aircraft arriving in Istanbul, just defies any kind of reality. And for the president of the United States to participate in what clearly is a Saudi effort at cover-up and whitewash, is really undermining the credibility of the United States in so many ways.”
Anchor Nicolle Wallace asked, “To what degree do you think the president’s rhetoric where he calls journalists enemies of the people and praises dictators and authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin, like MBS, like Kim Jong-un, do you think that climate contributes to the situation we find ourselves?”
Van Hollen said, “There’s no doubt in my mind, the fact that the president of the United States has abandoned what has been a bipartisan tradition in this country of the president of the United States standing up for human rights and freedom of the press certainly emboldens foreign authoritarian leaders to try to lock people up because of what they’re writing, throw human rights activists in jail, and in this case, leading the Saudi regime to think that they could do this and somehow get away with that. It undermines our leadership in the world.”
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN