Paul to Saudi government: 'It takes a lot of damn gall' to lecture US

Paul to Saudi government: 'It takes a lot of damn gall' to lecture US
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe MORE (R-Ky.) fired back at Saudi foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir on Monday after the top official criticized his rhetoric on Jamal Khashoggi’s slaying.

"My direct response to the foreign minister would be that it takes a lot of damn gall for Saudi Arabia, a dictatorship with 3,000 political prisoners held without trial, to lecture anyone in the U.S. about the presumption of innocence," Paul told reporters on Monday when asked about the comments.

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The response comes after Al-Jubeir told Fox News on Sunday that Congress should "wait until they have the facts" before they make a judgement on Khashoggi's killing and that there is "the presumption of innocence until proven guilty."

Al-Jubeir specifically mentioned Paul, saying his accusation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for Khashoggi's death was "not based in fact" but "based on emotions and based on speculation."

"It's very surprising that somebody 6,000 miles away can be certain about an event that happened 6,000 miles away with no access to information or intelligence. So, this is a judgment call on the part of Sen. Paul," he added.

Paul on Monday told reporters that he stood by his assertion that the crown prince, referred to internationally as MBS, had signed off on the slaying.

"I think nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without the crown prince's approval," he said, adding "rarely do people that are their guards and their henchmen" act without their knowledge.

The Saudi government acknowledged Khashoggi's death for the first time on Friday night. They said the U.S.-based Washington Post contributor, who was critical of the government, died during a "fight" in the country's consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi went missing on Oct. 2 after he entered the consulate to get paperwork needed for his marriage. The Saudi government initially tried to say that he left, but never provided evidence of his exit.

Congress is mulling a range of potential legislative options in response to Khashoggi's slaying.

Paul told reporters during the call that he wants to block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and didn't support sanctions unless they directly targeted the crown prince — something he believes his colleagues are likely unwilling to do.

“I think if we would get another vote now we could actually block” arms sales, Paul told reporters Monday. “These sales will have to eventually be announced, but I think they’re going to try everything they can to avoid it in the middle of this outcry over the murder.”