tv Sens. Graham Menendez on Response to Khashoggi Death CSPAN December 12, 2018 11:19pm-11:44pm EST
will take you to the sites of the robert dole institute at the university of kansas to hear about the life of the long serving senator from the state. lindsey graham and bob menendez held a news conference to discuss the killing of "washington post" columnist jama khashoggi and the proxy war in yemen. from capitol hill, this is 25 minutes. >> thank you for joining us in the bipartisan group of members
who have introduced the saudi arabia accountability in yemen mac. we believe what is going on in the floor today is incredibly important in terms of what the u.s. role should be as it relates to any conflict in yemen and extracting the united states from that role and today's part of the fruition and the advoca advocacy. under the legislation would provide sanctions for anyone that stops humanitarian relief in the yemen that would have sanctions on those providing assistance.
it would have sanctions in the global mandatory sanctions for human rights abuses most particularly for whomever that might be, and i think collectively that is the crown prince of saudi arabia. it's towards the resolution of the conflict and at the same time it sends a global message that just because you are our ally, you cannot kill with impunity and believe you can get away with it. that is a global message that we need to send and at the end of the day if we don't send that message, then i worry for moving ahead. with that i will stop there.
>> i think the senate took an important step last week sending the message what is happening is not acceptable. we have a humanitarian disaster and we need to see some action by the saudis to help. we took another positive step forward today and hopefully we will follow that again with the passage of the legislation today. but i think more importantly in terms of the menendez legislation is that this is not going away. this is something we are going to continue to look at because people need to be held accountable for what has happened, and this is a bipartisan effort that will continue. i am pleased to join my colleagues today and those that have been in the forefront of trying to call attention to what's happening to call attention and hold people accountable for jamal
khashoggi's murder and to address the crisis that is happening with saudi arabia and to say very clearly to them and to the rest of the world that we believe in the values of the united states that support human rights and believe in the dignity of each individual, so i am pleased we hopefully will pass this legislation and we will follow that with the menendez sanctions legislation. >> i appreciate you for introducing the legislation and i want to make the record clear i support what the senators want to achieve which is to hold saudi arabia accountable for their abuses in yemen and i don't like the vehicle of the war powers act. everybody that voted to move
forward on the approach will vote for menendez and then some. the current relationship with saudi arabia isn't working for america. they have been strategic allies and could be in the future but right now it's more of a burden than an asset. this country has been a wrecking ball and this instant is one of many o that the most egregious d people can understand why they are upset. i think more is expected not less. if you want to integrate your economy towers there are certain things you have to accept what the rule of law and if you want to buy a weapon you have to accept certain things. how to use them matters.
i want everybody in the region to know if you are thinking about doing what they did and you want to have a relationship with the united states, good luck it's not going to happen. i think the president is right about having been a strategic ally. they could be in the future but i think you are wrong about what is going on here. the reason i'm supporting the approach next year is i'm never going to let this go until things change in saudi arabia. this is coming from the biggest supporter of the relationship in the past. myself and senator mccain have had the lonely job of defending the relationship in the past. but to me those days are over because what's going on in saudi arabia between the murder, the
dismembering of yemen, the imprisonment of the lebanese prime minister and the most bizarre thing i've seen in 20 years, the embargo without any notice to us as a nation, enough is enough so to our friends in saudi arabia as you are never going to have the relationship with the united states senate unless things change and it's up to you to figure out what that change should be. the current construct is not working and there is a relationship between the countries and individuals. the individual crown prince is so toxic, so tainted and so-called that i can't ever see myself doing business with saudi arabia in the future unless there is a change.
>> i want to thank all of my colleagues who supported moving forward on the resolution about an hour ago. 60 votes from republicans and democrats sends a signal to the administration and saudi arabia that if this administration doesn't reorient them congress is going to do it. i'm supportive of the legislation and i thank them for putting alhim forputting all th. i would note that both she and the incoming ranking member and the incoming chairman of the foreign relations committee were among the 60 votes today that voted to move forward on the resolution and i hope that portends the ability to move together next year to put forward and advance the legislation. but to simply reiterate the
saudi arabia is our ally there is a line was crossed long ago and it's now up to the united states congress to try to make clear what this relationship can be and has to be going into the future. yemen is one of the symptoms and the most disastrous. 85,000 under the age of five have died from starvation and disease and all the evidence points to the fact many times they are using our bombs to deliberately target either civilians or civilian infrastructure. but to the lebanese minister, foreign policy went off the rails sometime ago and we are
still the senior partner in this relationship sometimes it seems the united states as a junior partner, we are not and we can use our sanctions and military support, we can use our reputation will tell you as an ally to make clear the saudis need to start behaving differently in the region. we are going to push this next year but there are lots of ways the united states congress can have a big impact on the relationship with saudi arabia. it's the annual appropriations budget includes funding for a number of joint products in saudi arabia. the congress still has the power to reject any arm signals that put before us and we hold the ability to hold the sanctions in the legislation to punish certain individuals for their bad behavior. so i think it's important to get together and she wanted to be
here as well. he was on the floor, but to make clear this resolution is going to pass and it will represent the review in saudi arabia that the united states congress as given in the history of our relationship. it is just the beginning unless the administration and the saudi arabia regime make a decision to go tboth start acting differenty and resetting the foundation of our relationship so i look forward to working with these partners through the end of this year into next year. ..
we passed the act and i think over the objections of the obama administration they pushed hard for the sanctions. every now and then congress asserts itself and senator murphy said i think the president is dead right about the strategic relationship being meaningful and it could be meaningful in the future i just see this as a game changer. to try to explain why this is okay this is not okay. to me it is a defining moment for us as a nation for the future of saudi arabia and the middle east in general. there's a lot of bad actors in the middle east we just don't need to condone any more than we have to end this is a situation where you don't have to.
they need us a lot more than we need them and to not realize that i think it's a mistake. 90% of our imports come from saudi arabia. we will find more here and other places to make up for that and when it comes to military assistance to you think russia and china are going to provide better protection against iran and a lot of other common enemies i believe the relationship while valuable in the past has become a burden and as long as mbs is around i don't think they will ever be normal again. >> what sort of commitment is there and you mentioned you haven't spoken to the new chair
man so how can you guarantee that something would get moving next year? >> there are those that believe that the resolution and the senators would never get there. i think it is going to be very robust so that is an example. i've stopped arms sales by virtue where the chair and they don't change the long-standing practice i don't envision myself releasing arms sales until we have a different change in what the senator talked about. there are a series of leverage points.
in the effort to make sure that we get votes on the legislation, i am thrilled that this is a bipartisan legislation. they haven't signed on but otherwise we would have a good chunk of the united states senate on this we would find. it's that kind of action through saudi arabia if you can kill with impunity and nothing
happens as our allies. if you have a relationship in the united states you can do anything almost anything you want. it's not in the interest of the united states to abandon our commitment to the human rights democracy and international rules of law. when those are observed we ultimately have the best, deepest and most secure relationships in the world we need to aspire and work towards that. the legislation not only deals with yemen and saudi deals with that as well. >> and_point if i may whether we like it or not, gun sales are a big part of the relationship in saudi arabia and you cannot continue to do arms sales without congressional support
and approval. in the past, the emotions were privileged in the senate is not in the house of representatives. it's going to be difficult to find the votes to approve the sales in saudi arabia in the senate and the house if this policy doesn't change. so it is hard to maintain a relationship without a will in congress given the powers and privileged resolutions that are available even to those that are not in the legislative leadership. >> what do you think the president doesn't share with you that you and so many members of congress have about this flex >> we had a discussion about the interrogation policies at my joy job is to protect the country and here's the threats as i see it we are making the problem
worse, not better. it's a dangerous place you are right but what would make it more dangerous is every civilized norm is overlooked and for us to kind of withdrawal may suss more dangerous. it's not questioning his motives and questioning the decision-making process and i think to ignore this makes traveling more at-risk you are creating more dangerous not plus to insist on fundamental change
and i have a difference with the president about how to bring that about. >> from my own perspective i don't know all of the president's motivations in terms of the position that he's taken with the crown prince of saudi arabia. i don't know whether there are economic considerations or not. i know that the arms sales are overblown in terms of the dollar amounts and we are happy to have our staff put out the dollar amount i keep hearing as a fraction of that so it isn't as significant as it would seem. they are still going to see them as the next threat s threats sol continue to be in our sphere and i think that they are going to solve their problems while they are in an honorable the marriage with the russians in theory andd so at the end of the day i don't know if i want to put my faith in a country that has an
alliance with iran and another interest that russia has and they've purchased 30 years of our weaponry just to replace it and they will need to have a relationship with us. it doesn't say that it's the end of the relationship saudi arabia. but we are saying the saudi arabia has to change. >> you can't jus just fill-in te blank about the weapons sales. i have been one of the leading advocates of this relationship when it comes to suing them for 9/11 and other things. it matters a bit to join forces where they are coming down hard on saudi arabia and in terms of weapons we have to think long and hard under the current construct do you really want to transfer most of your technologies to somebody that thinks that it's okay to lure to
the conflict in turkey if you're saudi and is it okay to transfer the most sophisticated weapons to somebody that seems to be irrational on multiple fronts, so those that want a normal military to military relationship with saudi arabia, count me in. it will be risky given the current regime's behavior for us to transfer the most sophisticated weapons. maybe one day he brush gives it to russia and china. i've been working on this issue since march of 2017. this much is clear americans don't approve of using food and medicine as weapons of war. americans do indeed want us to
follow the humanitarian law and expect the same of our partners. the world is a very dangerous place and sometimes we have to partner with countries we don't always agree with. this is the evolved into not only the worst humanitarian crisis but 14 million people on the verge of starvation. a serious national security crisis and as cnn continues to deteriorate and more people become radicalized which we see on the ground, then their foothold in the country is only going to grow. al qaeda is going to grow in their easel. isis presence is only going to grow in this country so this is a serious national security issue and that's why it is essential that we send the message getting our administration more leverage as they try to press them to negotiate in good faith and moving forward we all know the only conclusion, the only end to
this situation is going to be through a negotiated settlement that is what all of us want. >> thank you all, appreciate it. on wednesday he gave farewell remarks from the senate floor. he's currently the longest-serving senator in u.s. history. his speech is 30 minutes. >> thank you, mr. president. for more than four