Donald Trump is Saudi Arabia's 'Bitch,' Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Says After Khashoggi Statement

While receiving bipartisan backlash over a Tuesday statement in which he ignored the intelligence community's assessment that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the order of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, President Donald Trump received what was perhaps the strongest rebuke from a sitting Democratic member of Congress on Wednesday.

"Hey [Donald Trump]: being Saudi Arabia's bitch is not 'America First,'" Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii said on Twitter.

Rather than condemning the Middle East country for the journalist's murder, the president issued an extraordinary statement filled with exclamation points that praised Saudi Arabia's business ties to the U.S., bashed other Middle East countries, boasted of the administration's "America First" policy and sided with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's claim that, contrary to U.S. intelligence officials, he was not involved in the murder of the journalist.

"King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi," Trump's statement said. "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!"

Democratic and Republican lawmakers were swift to offer condemnation. Outgoing GOP Senator Bob Corker said he never thought he'd "see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia" while GOP Senator Rand Paul said he was "pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First. I'm also pretty sure John Bolton wrote it," he added.

Even Trump-ally and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said it was "not in our national security interests to look the other way when it comes to the brutal murder" of Khashoggi.

The president's statement started by saying, "America First! The world is a very dangerous place!" Trump said he believed the "crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone." He also mentioned the U.S. sanctions against 17 Saudis involved in the killing, an involvement that Saudi Arabia originally denied but later admitted to.

But a few sentences later, the president appeared to contradict himself.

"We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi," Trump said, appearing to ignore the continuing investigation by U.S. intelligence agencies. "In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Speaking to reporters Tuesday on the White House lawn shortly after that statement, Trump said the U.S. was "with Saudi Arabia" and "we're staying with Saudi Arabia."

"This is about 'America first.' They're paying us $400 billion-plus to purchase and invest in our country," Trump said. "I'm not going to destroy the world economy, and I'm not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia."

He went on to claim that he has "no business whatsoever with Saudi Arabia." While the president may not own property there, Trump does have a long personal financial history with the Saudi government that equates to tens of millions of dollars.

Those transactions include a $20 million 282-foot yacht sold in 1991, a stake in Trump's Plaza Hotel in New York in 1995, the 45th floor of the Trump World Tower in 2001 for $12 million and a $270,000 payment from a Saudi lobbying firm last year after a trip to Trump's D.C. hotel.

When it began to appear in October that Khashoggi had been murdered, 11 Senate Democrats demanded that the president divulge his past and current financial ties to Saudi Arabia.

Donald Trump is Saudi Arabia’s ‘Bitch,’ Tulsi Gabbard Says After Khashoggi Statement
Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard, from Hawaii, speaks at a press conference on House Resolution 922 outside the U.S. Capitol, on July 18. The congresswoman’s remarks followed a statement by the president that praised Saudi Arabia while questioning the country’s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Donald Trump is Saudi Arabia's 'Bitch,' Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Says After Khashoggi Statement | U.S.
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