Evangelical preacher Pat Robertson is urging Americans to “cool the rhetoric,” after details emerged that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was butchered by a Saudi Arabian hit squad at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to The Huffington Post.
Khashoggi was a Saudi citizen and Washington Post columnist who never emerged from the Saudi consulate after going in to pick up documents on October 2.
Since details of Khashoggi’s slaying have come out to the public — including a horrible audio clip allegedly confirming that the journalist was tortured and dismembered while still alive, as reported by the Inquisitr — many U.S. officials have called for the kingdom to face repercussions.
South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, has called for the U.S. to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.”
Robertson thinks people are getting a bit too up in arms about the murder, however.
“I just want to cool down the temper of those who are screaming blood for the Saudis,” Robertson said on The 700 Club show on Monday. “Look, these people are key allies. Our main enemy in the Middle East is Iran, and the Saudis stand up against Iran.”
He added: “I don’t think on this issue that we need to pull sanctions and get tough. I just think it’s a mistake.”
Robertson doubled down, coming on his show Tuesday and telling viewers, “We’ve got to cool the rhetoric, and what the president is trying to do is to give the Saudis an out.”
Robertson stressed that he felt the $100 billion arms deal with the Saudi’s — of which only $14.5 billion is set in stone — was too important to risk.
On top of that, he said that the Saudi’s are “a bulwark against Iran,” and that having an ally in the Middle East was essential.
“You don’t blow up an international alliance over one person,” he said.
Unlike Robertson, U.S. politicians seem much more split as to what the President should do in response.
According to The Hill, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan are waiting to see the results of a Trump administration investigation into the murder before speaking on the matter. This sentiment is echoed by other notable Republicans, such as Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.
“Listen, we have a tremendous relationship with the Saudis. They’re important to us. We’re important to them,” Sen. Hatch told reporters on Wednesday. He elaborated further, “… but we have to be honest and watch these things very carefully and move in a correct and honest way. So I think our administration is doing that, so let’s hope that that’s the case.”
Other Republicans, like Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, seem to think that the President needs to plan for the worst when it comes to the incident.
Kennedy told reporters, “I’m open to having Congress sit down with the president, if this all turns out to be true, and it looks like it is… and saying how can we express our condemnation without blowing up the Middle East.”
Democrats nearly unanimously called for Trump administration officials to boycott upcoming summits in Saudi Arabia, and to impose heavy sanctions.
A letter saying as much — signed by at least 11 Democrats — was sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday, imploring him to skip a major finance conference being hosted in Riyadh next week.
“Considering the seriousness of the accused crimes, we must request and review the details surrounding the incident before moving forward in our bilateral relationship with the Saudi government,” Democratic Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman wrote. “Pending a thorough investigation that provides truthful answers to Mr. Khashoggi’s whereabouts, I encourage you to suspend any trips and meetings with Saudi officials.”