Dem senator: Trump's Saudi statement 'stunning window' into his 'autocratic tendencies'

Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless MORE (R.I.), the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE on Tuesday of aiding in a cover-up by Saudi leadership after the president indicated he would not to take further action against Saudi Arabia over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“This White House statement is a stunning window into President Trump’s autocratic tendencies, his limited grasp of world affairs, and his weakness on the world stage," Reed said in a statement. "It is shocking to see President Trump continue to act as an accomplice to a clear cover up by Saudi leadership."

Reed scoffed at Trump's argument that he was putting "America first," calling his decision "feckless" and noting that he has sided with other autocrats like Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past.


The senator added that Trump had signaled he "is willing to look the other way if the price is right" by citing U.S. economic ties with Saudi Arabia in his handling of Khashoggi's death.

“The United States stands for human rights and the rule of law," Reed said. "President Trump’s abdication of leadership on these bedrock American values will have consequences.”

The senator was one of many who blasted Trump over his decision not to dole out further punishment against Saudi Arabia or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite the CIA reportedly concluding that the leader ordered Khashoggi's killing.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and outspoken critic of Saudi leadership, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He was reportedly met by a hit team that killed him and dismembered his body.

The crown prince and Saudi King Salman have denied involvement in Khashoggi's death, though the country has repeatedly changed its explanation for what happened to the journalist.

Trump on Tuesday refused to blame the crown prince, saying "we may never know" who was responsible for the journalist's death.

The Trump administration previously sanctioned 17 Saudis for their alleged roles in Khashoggi's death, and revoked U.S. visas for some officials deemed responsible for the incident.