GOP lawmaker demands ‘immediate recall’ of acting US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

GOP lawmaker demands ‘immediate recall’ of acting US ambassador to Saudi Arabia
© Greg Nash

Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Gardner gets latest Democratic challenge from former state senator Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020 MORE (R-Colo.) on Friday condemned Saudi Arabia's admission that journalist Jamal Khashoggi had died inside its consulate in Istanbul and called for the acting U.S. ambassador to be called back from Saudi Arabia.

"[O]ur country must stand up for our values and demand our 'allies' respect human rights," Coffman said in a statement posted on Twitter. "I did not fight to have us look the other way."

"I am calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE to immediately recall the (acting) U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom pending further consultation with Congress," he added.

The Trump administration does not currently have a confirmed ambassador for Saudi Arabia, though Christopher Henzel serves as the United States's interim chargé d’affaires in Riyadh. Coffman's statement was mocked by some on social media for this reason, including by Connecticut Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen This week: Border deal remains elusive as shutdown looms MORE (D) who reminded Coffman of the vacancy

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The statement from Coffman, who is locked in a tough reelection battle this fall, comes as U.S. lawmakers call for a more forceful U.S. response over Khashoggi's death.

The Saudi government acknowledged for the first time Friday that Khashoggi died inside its consulate in Istanbul after entering on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.

However, the kingdom claimed that he died as a result of a fight after getting into an argument, an explanation that U.S. lawmakers have largely dismissed.

Turkish authorities have claimed that Khashoggi was ambushed by Saudi operatives and dismembered shortly after entering the consulate. 

The Turkish government reportedly has a tape of his killing, which President Trump earlier this week said the U.S. would request.

Trump on Friday said he found the Saudi explanation for Khashoggi's death credible while calling the arrests of 18 Saudi nationals in connection with his death a "good first step."

He also stopped short of committing to ending arm sales to Saudi Arabia, saying he preferred "some form of sanction" that did not involve the sales.

"It's a big step. There's a lot of people involved," Trump said of the Saudi statement and initial arrests of more than a dozen nationals.

"I do," he added when asked if he found the Saudi's explanation credible.