Gabbard knocks Trump over handling of Pensacola air station shooting

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardYang qualifies for New Hampshire debate stage Poll: Bernie Sanders holds 9-point lead in New Hampshire The establishment scam of 'unity' MORE (D-Hawaii) ripped the Trump administration on Tuesday over its handling of last week's deadly shooting by a member of the Saudi military at a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla.

The Democratic presidential hopeful, who has been a vocal critic of the Saudi kingdom, knocked President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren: Dershowitz presentation 'nonsensical,' 'could not follow it' Bolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report Dershowitz: Bolton allegations would not constitute impeachable offense MORE in an interview on Hill.TV, saying that his administration needs to call the shooting "for what it is."

”This was a terrorist attack that took the lives of three American service members and injured eight others,” Gabbard said during an appearance on Hill.TV's “Rising.”

“We need to call it for what it is instead of what President Trump has done with his own remarks, with Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo basically putting out messages as though they are the spokespersons for the Saudi Kingdom rather than standing up for our country’s national security and what’s in the best interest of our country.”

Gabbard also asserted that the president failed to speak up “for those families who just lost their loved ones.”

“Saudi Arabia is not our ally. As president, I will state that very clearly and they will continue to not be our ally as long as they are both directly and indirectly supporting terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and others,” she said.

Three people were killed and several others were injured in the shooting last Friday. The FBI has since identified the suspected shooter as Saudi Royal Air Force second lieutenant Mohammed Alshamrani, 21.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Trump tweeted, "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.”

Later in the day on Friday, Trump said in a pair of tweets that King Salman of Saudi Arabia had called to “express his sincere condolences.”

“The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people,” Trump tweeted Friday.

But, over the weekend, the president appeared to empathize with the the Saudi royal family. According to The New York Times, Trump told reporters that the royal family was "devastated in Saudi Arabia."

By late Sunday, the White House said Trump had thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who committed during a phone to working with the U.S. “to prevent” further attacks.

Saudi officials are cooperating with U.S. officials on the investigation into the Florida shooting, which is currently being treated as a possible act of terrorism.

Nearly 175 Saudi Arabian military aviation students have now been grounded as part of an “operational pause” following the rampage, according to multiple reports on Tuesday.

—Tess Bonn