Romney blasts Trump, Pompeo response to Saudis: 'Inconsistent' with 'American greatness'

Sen.-elect Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Senate blocks push to subpoena Bolton in impeachment trial Impeachment trial begins with furor over rules MORE (R-Utah) on Wednesday condemned President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE's and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid MORE's latest comments about journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing, calling them "inconsistent" with the U.S. national interest.

"The President's and Secretary of State's Khashoggi statements to date are inconsistent with an enduring foreign policy, with our national interest, with basic human rights, and with American greatness," Romney said in a statement.

"Sanctions do not necessarily require ending the alliance; they do demand real and painful consequence," he added. 

Romney blasted Trump's response after the president indicated that the Saudis would not face severe punishment for Khashoggi's death last month.

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The CIA has reportedly concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's killing inside the country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

But Trump on Tuesday refused to blame the Saudi crown prince for the journalist's murder.

Khashoggi was a Virginia resident and worked as a columnist for The Washington Post. He entered the consulate to obtain documents for his marriage to a Turkish woman, but was killed by a 15-man team that then dismembered his body.

"Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" Trump said in his statement Tuesday, adding that "we may never know" who was responsible.

The Trump administration has said it will impose sanctions on 17 Saudis accused of coordinating and executing the plot to kill Khashoggi. That group included a former top aide to the crown prince and the Saudi consul general in Istanbul.

But Trump has rebuffed calls for harsher punishment directed at the crown prince.

The president pledged on Tuesday to remain "steadfast" with Saudi Arabia, saying, "If we abandon Saudi Arabia, it would be a terrible mistake."

"Right now, we have oil prices in great shape. I'm not going to destroy the world economy and I'm not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia," he told reporters.

Pompeo concurred in his own remarks later in the day, appearing to brush off the event as part of a "nasty world."

"It’s a mean, nasty world out there, the Middle East in particular," Pompeo said. "This is a long, historic commitment and one that is absolutely vital to American national security."