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Mark Warner says President Trump's 'words matter' on Khashoggi killing

Andy Serwer
Editor in Chief

Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) thinks President Donald Trump has created an environment where the Saudis felt emboldened to kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by not understanding that his “words matter.”

Khashoggi, a journalist who wrote for the Washington Post, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Turkey on October 2. The circumstances of his death have been in dispute however, and the Saudi government has changed its version of events on numerous occasions. It still denies that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—an ally of President Trump’s—knew about or planned the killing. Last week the Washington Post reported that the CIA concluded that the Khashoggi’s killing was carried out under the orders of the Crown Prince. President Trump said that a full report on the killing of Khashoggi would be completed this week. However, on Tuesday, he published a statement supporting the Saudi government.

Speaking at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit earlier this month, Warner, ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he had not heard the tape that allegedly recorded the killing, but thought it was likely he would.

Senator Mark Warner

“We will be fully briefed on that heinous act,” Warner said. “It’s pretty remarkable to see the Saudi government continue to change [its story on the killing.]. And this is one of the areas where again, I don’t think Donald Trump understands that words matter, especially the words of an American president.”

What did Warner mean by that?

“I do not believe that a so-called ally like Saudi Arabia would have taken such a brazen act under a Reagan administration, or a Clinton administration, or a Bush administration, or an Obama administration because they would have been afraid that American protection of a free press and basic respect for human rights, that they would get too much pushback,” Warner said. “But because this president, again, whether it’s to Vladimir Putin or to the Saudi leadership seems to kowtow, it’s pretty brazen where a country would send 15 killer/assassins/security people to commit this brutal a crime in frankly, inside a consulate in a foreign country. It’s pretty remarkable.”

Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @serwer

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