Incoming Dem lawmaker: Trump 'sympathizes' with leaders 'accused of moral transgressions'

Rep.-elect Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) tore into President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE on Friday for defending Saudi Arabia despite the CIA's reported finding that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Malinowski, a former assistant secretary of State in the Obama administration, was among those who brought intelligence to Congress before the 2016 presidential election which found that Russia was attempting to interfere with the campaign.


CNN host Aliysn Camerota pointed out that the president has been reluctant to acknowledge Russia President Vladimir Putin’s role in election interference despite the assessment from the U.S. intelligence community that Moscow sought to help elect Trump.

“It seems like the president instinctively sympathizes with powerful leaders who are accused of moral transgressions, and I don't think it's too hard to figure out why that is,” Malinowski said on CNN.

“The result, though, is that he believes foreign dictators, whether it’s Putin, or crown prince of Saudi Arabia or [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un, over the conclusions of our own intelligence community,” Malinowski continued. “And that's not just a ridiculous thing that we should laugh at.”

Trump is signaling to governments all around the world that they can “get away with anything” as long as they keep paying us, Malinowski argued.

“I don’t think Congress can accept that,” he added.

Trump has rejected a reported conclusion from the CIA this week which found that the Saudi crown prince ordered the killing of Khashoggi inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

"As I said, 'Maybe he did, maybe he didn't.' But I will say very strongly that it's a very important ally. And if we go by a certain standard we won't be able to have allies with almost any country," he said.

Trump also maintained that the CIA hasn’t concluded whether the crown prince ordered the killing, accusing the press of “false reporting.”

“The CIA doesn’t say they did it. They do point out certain things. And pointing out those things, you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn’t,” he said.

“They didn’t conclude. They did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings certain ways. … Nobody’s concluded," he added. "I don’t know if anyone’s going to be able to conclude that the crown prince did.”

The incoming congressman said Trump must take action against the crown prince.

“This is not about blowing up the relationship, it is about sanctioning an individual,” Malinowski said of the crown prince. “It is about separating a relationship with Saudi Arabia from our relationship with an incredibly volatile, dangerous and unpredictable young man who is campaigning to be the next ruler of this country for the next 50 years."

Malinowski, a longtime human rights activist, defeated Rep. Leonard LanceLeonard LanceThomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Gun debate to shape 2020 races GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs MORE (R-N.J.) in a heavily targeted suburban district in New Jersey during the midterm elections earlier this month.