Dem lawmaker says US should ‘immediately’ consider arms sanctions against Saudi Arabia

Rep. Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralOvernight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense MORE (D-N.Y.) says the Trump administration should consider sanctions on arms sales against Saudi Arabia if the nation is found responsible for the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Immediately we should consider sanctions on arms sales,” Espaillat, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told "Rising" Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton during an interview that aired on Tuesday.

Espaillat added that the U.S. has an “ethical responsibility” to reexamine its business relationship with Saudi Arabia, especially if it involves a brutal regime that has engaged in violent attacks against its own people that has resulted “in the deaths of thousands of people.”

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes in the Yemeni civil war, according to The New York Times. In August, the United Nations issued a report saying this action — along with other atrocities — could amount to war crimes.

“This is a basic human rights question and so with regards to Saudi Arabia, we should examine our relationship with that nation,” the Democratic lawmaker said.

But Espaillat told Hill.TV that taking swift action against the kingdom will be no easy task because it goes against long-held political policies in countries like Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

The congressman asserted that the U.S. has historically engaged in supporting dictators and regimes, citing South America as a prime example.

“In most, cases if not all cases, that has ended in a bad way — look at what happened in South America when we supported brutal tyrants and dictators,” he said.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoJudge rules American-born woman who joined ISIS not a US citizen Human rights: Help or hindrance to toppling dictators? The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing MORE on Wednesday met with Turkey’s president and foreign minister in Ankara in an attempt to get some answers on what happened to Khashoggi, who disappeared more than two weeks ago after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials have said they have evidence the journalist was killed inside the consulate.

Lawmakers both sides of the aisle are calling for swift action, but Trump has cautioned not to jump to any conclusions.

In an interview with AP, Trump compared the mystery surrounding the missing Saudi journalist to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughKavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation Protesters roll out a screen playing Blasey Ford's testimony ahead of Federalist Society dinner Kavanaugh to deliver major speech to conservative Federalist Society MORE during his confirmation hearing, stating it was an example of "guilty until proven innocent."

Espaillat meanwhile said he hopes that officials get an answer soon. Turkish officials are reportedly conducting a search of the Saudi consul's residence over the Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder, according to the AP

“We hope to get an answer soon — there is an answer to that I’m sure and the world should know.”

 — Tess Bonn