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 CoffmanColorado New Members 2019 Defeated Republicans mocked by Trump fire back at president Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress 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 TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks 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 MurphySenators return to Washington intent on action against Saudis Howard Dean: Democratic Party getting younger as GOP gets ‘older and whiter’ We need a bipartisan issue to unite us. Saudi Arabia is that issue 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.