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By Adam Edelman
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Wednesday slammed President Donald Trump as “Saudi Arabia’s bitch” in the latest scathing criticism of the commander-in-chief’s extraordinary statement this week to stand by the country’s rulers despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Hawaii Democratic congresswoman made the remarks in a brief and blistering tweet Wednesday afternoon.
“Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not ‘America First,'” wrote Gabbard, a 37-year-old Iraq War veteran who at various points has been considered a rising star in her party.
The tweet was in apparent reference to Trump’s exclamation point-filled formal presidential statement Tuesday that his administration would take no actions against Saudi Arabia’s rulers regarding the Khashoggi killing — despite NBC News and other reports last week that the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing.
“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 the statement, which featured a subheading that read “America First!” In the statement, he also outlined how the U.S. needed Saudi support to help fight terrorism internationally and to help keep oil prices low.
On Wednesday morning, he followed the statement with a tweet about oil, saying that it was “Great!” that “prices getting lower”
“Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” he wrote, hours before Gabbard chimed in.
The white-hot words from Gabbard mark a departure from an earlier apparent attempt to work with him. In November 2016, just weeks after Trump won the election, Gabbard met with the president-elect at Trump Tower to discuss the war in Syria and other foreign policy issues. Gabbard called the meeting “frank and positive,” and there was speculation at the time that she was being considered for a job in his administration.
Previously, Gabbard had clashed with President Barack Obama and other top Democrats, especially on foreign policy and Syria (during Obama’s second term she appeared on Fox News to lambaste the administration for refusing to use the term “Islamic extremism”). And in January 2017, she revealed that she’d traveled to the war-torn country, without the knowledge of her party’s leaders, to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Trump’s statement about Khashoggi, and broader decision to side with Saudi Arabia over his own intelligence agencies, prompted furious criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Tuesday tweeted, “I’m pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., tweeted Tuesday night, “I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”