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tv   Sens. Graham Menendez on Response to Khashoggi Death  CSPAN  December 13, 2018 4:00am-4:27am EST

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mr. menendez: so, thank you for joining us. we're joined in a bipartisan group of members who have introduced the saudi arabia
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accountability in yemen act. we believe, at least many of us believe that what is going on on the floor today is incredibly important. in terms of what the u.s.'s role should be as it relates to any conflict in yemen. and extracting the united states from that role. senator murphy's been an integral part of this on the committee for some time. today's part of the fruition of his advocacy. but at the end of the day, we also believe that that won't end, number one, the war in yemen. that there are additional steps that have to be taken. that are meaningful. such as those called for under the legislation that would provide sanctions to anyone who stops humanitarian relief into yemen, that would have sanctions on those providing assistance to the houthis, that would suspend armed sales to
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saudi arabia, and that would global, tions, mandatory sanctions for human rights abuses, most particularly the death of jamal khashoggi, for whoever that might be. and i think we collectively, that is the crown prince of saudi arabia. those are some of the elements of the legislation that we believe both advocate to move towards a resolution of the yemen conflict, and at the same time sends a global message that just because you're our ally, you cannot kill with impunity and believe you can get away with it. that's 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 what path we move ahead. with that, i'll stop there. senator shaheen and senator graham has been gracious enough to allow her to go first. then we'll hear from him and
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senator murphy. mrs. shaheen: thank you. i'm pleased to be here as a co-sponsor of this legislation. i think the senate took an important step last week in sending a very strong message that what's happening in yemen is not acceptable. we have a humanitarian disaster there. and we need to see some actions by the saudis to help end that. we took another positive step forward today and hopefully we will follow that, again, with 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 work at. because people need to be held accountable for what's happened and this is a bipartisan effort that will continue. so i'm pleased to join my colleagues today. those people who have been in the forefront of trying to call attention to what's happening in yemen, to call attention and hold people accountable for jamal khashoggi's murder, and
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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 e believe in the values of the united states, that support human rights, that believe in the dignity of each individual. so, i'm pleased that we hopefully will pass this legislation and that we will follow it with the menendez sanctions legislation. thank you. mr. graham: one, i appreciate you and senator young for introducing the legislation. and i want to just make the record really clear. i support what senator lee and sanders want to achieve. which is to hold saudi arabia accountable for their abuses in yemen and go beyond that, i just don't like the vehicle of the war powers act. so what i think is that everybody who voted to move forward on the lee-sanders
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approach will vote for menendez and then some. so why? why is this important? the current relationship with saudi arabia is not working for america. they have been strategic allies and could be in the future. but right now it is more of a burden than it is an asset. and why do i say that? this country, led by the de facto leaders, the crown prince, has been a wrecking ball. and the khashoggi instant is just one of many. but the most egregious and i think most people can relate to why we're upset. to be an ally of america, i think more is expected from you, not less. if you want to integrate your economy into ours, there's certain things you have to accept. like the rule of law. if you want to buy our weapons, there's certain things you have to accept. how you use them matters. so i just want everybody in the
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region to know that if you're thinking about doing what n.b.s. did and you want to have a relationship with the united states, good luck. it's not going to happen. i want to let the president know that i think you're right about saudi arabia having been a strategic ally and they could be in the future. but i think you're wrong about what's going on here. he reason i am supporting this 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 sometimes have had the lonely job of defending this strategic relationship in the past. but to me, those days are over. because what's going on in saudi arabia between the khashoggi murder and n.b.s. is
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complicit in it, the smembering of yemen, the imprisonment of the lebanese prime minister, the most bizarre thing i've seen in 20 years, the embargo of qatar without any notice to us as a nation, where we have 13,000 troops, enough is enough. so to our friends in saudi arabia, you're never going to have a relationship with the united states senate. unless chings change -- unless things change. it's up to you to figure out what that change should be. from my point of view, the current construct is not working. and there's a relationship between a country and individuals. the individual, the crown prince, is so toxic, so tainted, so flawed that i can't ever see myself doing business with saudi arabia in the future, unless there's a change there.
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mr. murphy: thank you. i want to thank all of my lleagues who supported our resolution just about an hour ago. 60 votes from republicans and democrats sends a very clear signal to this administration and to saudi arabia that if this administration doesn't reorient our policy towards saudi arabia, then congress is going to do it. i'm supportive of senator menendez's legislation. i thank him for putting all the time into it. and i would note that both he, as the incoming ranking member, and senator risch, as the incoming chairman of the foreign relations committee, were amongst those 60 votes today that voted to move forward on this resolution. i hope that portends the ability for our committee to work together next year to put forward and advance this legislation. but to simply reiterate what senator graham said.
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saudi arabia is our ally. but when your ally jumps into a pool of sharks, you aren't obligated to follow them. there is a line that saudi arabia crossed. i would argue long ago. and unfortunately it is 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 unfortunately it is the most disastrous of them. 85,000 kids under the age of 5 have died from starvation and disease. all the evidence points to the fact that many times the saudis are using our bombs to deliberately target either civilians or civilian infrastructure. but as senator graham mentioned from the blockaid of qatar to -- blockade of qatar to the kidnapping of the lebanese prime minister, saudi arabia's foreign policy went off the rails. some time ago. and we are still the senior
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partner in this relationship. sometimes it seems as if the united states is the junior partner. we are fat. and we can use our sanctions, we can use our military support , we can use our reputational value as an ally to make clear that the saudis need to start behaving differently in the region. again, we're going to push this legislation next year. but there are lots of ways in which the united states congress can have a big impact on the united states relationship with saudi arabia. it's the annual appropriations budget that includes funding for a number of joint projects with saudi arabia. the congress still has the power to reject any arms sale and we hold the ability to use sanctions in this legislation.
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senator young wanted to make clear that though this resolution is going to pass, -- t will represent the so i look forward two,ing with these partners through the end of this year and into next year. mr. menendez: a couple of questions. reporter: what are the names taking points with chairman corker and do you have a commitment from senator reid to advance this legislation next year? mr. menendez: i haven't had a conversation with senator risch yet as the incoming chairman on a whole host of things. i look forward to that. i don't know that it's of great worthwhile to go through what are their differences, because
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we're not going to get it done at the end of this year time-wise because there are differences. for me at the end of the day, one of the most significant differences we have is on mandatory global and i think that's a critical part, the heart of particularly dealing with the khashoggi matter. and so we had a difference on that. there were others that i was willing to cede on but not that one. reporter: senator graham, you had called the crown prince a wrecking ball, you have called him dangerous. mr. graham: crazy. reporter: crazy. there we go. [laughter] last night the president told reuters that at this moment it certainly does mean the united states is standing by the crown prince. mr. graham: you saw that. reporter: what's your reaction to that and what message does that send to the rest of the world? mr. graham: well, sometimes congress charts its own path. i remember during the bush administration, senator mccain nd others, we passed an act.
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i think bob, over the objections of the obama administration, pushed hard for iran sanctions. every now and then congress asserts it self, as senator murphy said. i think the president's dead right about the strategic relationship having been meaningful and could be meaningful in the future. i just see this event as a game changer. i don't -- i've been there a lot. i've been to iraq and afghanistan 46 or 47 times. i don't expect to go back again and try to explain why this is ok. this is not ok. i don't think the president believes it's ok. the question is, what to do about it. to me it is a defining moment for us as a nation, for the future of saudi arabia, and for the mideast in general. there are a lot of bad actors in the mideast. we just don't need to condone any more than we have to. and this is a situation where you don't have to. they need us a lot more than we
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need them. and to not realize that i think is a mistake. 9% of our oil imports come from saudi arabia. we'll find more oil here and other places to make up for that. and when it comes to military assistance, if you think russia and china is going to provide you better protection than the united states against iran and other common enemies, go down that road if you like. so i just believe that the relationship, while valuable in the past, has become too much of a burden, and as long as m.b.s. is around, i don't think t will ever be normal again. reporter: often congress tries to assert itself on foreign policy. but we hear these issues rise up and then votes not quite getting there. on the war power resolutions in the past, now this. what sort of commitment is there pushing this forward next year? you mentioned you haven't spoken to the new chairman. what kind of guarantee that
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something would really get moving next year? mr. menendez: first of all, there are those who believe that this resolution that senator murphy and senator sanders and lee have been pushing would never get there. i think it's going to be a very robust vote. so that's an example. secondly, i have used my leverage whenever i can as a ranking member, so i have stopped saudi armed sales by virtue of the comity that exists in the committee where the chair and ranking can stop an arms sale. so long as the administration doesn't change that longstanding practice, i don't envision myself releasing arm sales until we have a different change in what senator graham has talked about in the kingdom. and then right now there are a series of leverage points that the ranking member has on the foreign relations committee, to even have a hearing, where to go through nominations, whether to allow somebody to have a hearing for a nomination, i
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intend to use everything i can in an effort to make sure that we get votes on this legislation. and i am thrilled that this is a bipartisan effort, which i think will only grow. senator graham's on the legislation, senator young is on the legislation. several others have talked to us about getting on. and we have a slough of democrats that have not signed on because we're simply trying to create parity as we go along. but otherwise we'd have a good chunk of the united states senate on this, we will find a way, a process, a procedure to make sure that we get a vote. and i would expect that that will send the most defining type of action we can to saudi arabia. but i continue to i -- insist it's also a global message. if you can kill with impunity and nothing happens to you as our ally, then that sends
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messages to the philippines, it sends messages to others in other parts of the world that if you just have some strategic relation with the united states, you can do -- relationship with the united states, you can do almost anything you want. that is not the america i know. it is not the national interests of the united states to abandon our commitments to 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 continue to work towards that. the legislation i believe not only deals with yemen and saudi, but deals with that global message as well. so we're going to do everything we can. mr. murphy: just to underscore a point bob made. whether we like it or not, arm sales are a big part of our relationship with saudi arabia. and you cannot continue arm sales without congressional support and approval.
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in the past, the motions were privileged in the senate. but not in the house of representatives. it's going to be difficult to find the votes to approve arm sales, with saudi arabia and the senate and the house next year, given what senator graham has said and what others have said. if this policy doesn't change. so it's hard to maintain the relationship with saudi arabia without a willing congress, given the powers and the privileged resolutions that are available, even to those that aren't in legislative leadership. reporter: what do you think the president -- why do you think the president doesn't share the view that you and so many members of congress have about the crown prince? mr. graham: he's in a different spot. we had our discussions, president bush, about interrogation policy. he said, my job is to protect the country. here are the threats as i see it. senator mccain and i said, well, we're making the problem
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worse, not better. the president observes it's a dangerous place. you're absolutely right, mr. president. but what would make it more dange is if every civilized norm -- dangerous is if every civilized norm was overlooked. for to us kind of withdraw makes it more dangerous. every time america withdraws from the field, somebody fills in the vacuum. so the construct of, is it they're a valuable ally is a dangerous place, i don't buy. i think what happens is -- i'm not questioning his motives, i'm questioning the decision making process. i think for us to any time you with draw from civilized norms, you are creating more dangerers not less. the way forward for this strategic relationship to survive is insist on fundamental
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change and i have a difference with the president about how to bring that about. >> i don't know all of the president's motivations in temperatures of the positions he has taken with the crown prince and saudi arabia. i know that armed sales are overblown in terms of real dollar amounts and i'm happy to have our staff out there. i keep hearing $140 billion, a fraction of that, so that is not as significant as it would seem. and the saudis are going to see the iranians as a threat. and as senator graham, the russians going to solve their problem? the iranians are in an unholy marriage. at the end of the day, i don't want to put my faith in a
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country that has an alliance with iran. and then purchase between 30-40 weaponry.eplace the so our legislation does president say it's the end. it's not what we are saying. ut saudi arabia has to change. >> again, i have been sort of the leading advocates when it comes to suing them for 9/11 and other things. for me to change matters a bit here in the body to join forces coming down hard on saudi arabia. in terms of weapons, we have to think hard and long. under the current construct, do you want to transfer your technology to somebody who thinks it is to lure and chop
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him up and think you are going to get away with it and transfer your weapons who seems to be irrational on multiple fronts. those who want a relationship with saudi arabia, count me in. it would be risky for america for us to transfer our most sophisticated weapons and maybe he wakes up and gives it to russia or china. >> some brief thoughts. i came from the floor and offered an amendment to the underlying resolution. i have 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 want us to follow
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international humanitarian law. now the world is a very dangerous place and sometimes we have to partner with countries we don't gee with, but this has deinvolved into the worst humanitarian crisis, but a serious national crisis and as yemen continues to deteriorate and people become more radicalized and the foothold is going to grow. al qaeda is going to grow in their resolve. isis is going to grow in this country. this is a serious national security issue and it is essential we send a message getting our administration as they press the good faith. we know that the only conclusion and the only end to this
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horrific situation is going to be through a negotiated settlement. thank you all. i appreciate it.
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