House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that the disappearance and alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is “really disturbing” and could be problematic for the U.S.-Saudi relationship. However, in the interview with “CBS This Morning” co-host John Dickerson, Ryan also noted that “there is a lot to this relationship that will persist no matter what.”
“If this is the case, it’s atrocious, and we have laws for this,” he said, responding to reports that the Saudi government is going to say it was an interrogation gone wrong. He noted that there are sanctions laws in place — the Magnitsky Act, for “situations like this,” and that Congress will be looking into the matter.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Trump seemed to take a different view of Saudi Arabia’s role in Khashoggi’s fate.
“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Mr. Trump said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”
Ryan told “CBS This Morning” co-host John Dickerson that while the Khashoggi situation is a “setback for U.S.-Saudi ties, relations between the two countries will endure.”
“I’ve got to say, you know, this was supposed to be a new Saudi government that was going to be reforming — opening up — transparency — moderating Islam — and to see something like this could be a real setback,” he said. Still, he noted that the relationship with Saudi Arabia is “multifaceted, but’s very important, and there is a lot to this relationship that that will persist no matter what.”
In the interview, Ryan also scolded the president for calling adult star Stormy Daniels “horseface,” saying “there is no place for that kind of language.” He said Mr. Trump “should not have said that.”
Mr. Trump made the remark in a Tuesday tweet celebrating the dismissal of Daniels’ defamation suit against him. In response, Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump in 2006, tweeted that the comments were misogynistic.
However, Ryan did not offer a broader criticism of Mr. Trump’s style of politics. Asked by Dickerson whether the president practices “inclusive politics,” Ryan said that “sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t.”
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