Democrat President Joe Biden appears to be going back on a promise that he made during his presidential campaign following the release of a declassified report that alleges that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) “approved” an operation that resulted in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The New York Times reported late on Friday that Biden would not punish MBS because he was “fearing” what the consequences would be if he did so.
“Biden has decided that the price of directly penalizing Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is too high, according to senior administration officials,” The Times reported. “Biden’s aides said that as a practical matter, Prince Mohammed would not be invited to the United States anytime soon, and they denied that they were giving Saudi Arabia a pass, describing series of new actions on lower-level officials intended to penalize elite elements of the Saudi military and impose new deterrents to human rights abuses.”
During a Democrat primary debate in November 2019, Biden was asked by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell if he would hold those responsible for Khashoggi’s death responsible for what happened.
Here is the exchange [emphasis added]:
MITCHELL: Mr. Vice President, the CIA has concluded that the leader of Saudi Arabia directed the murder of U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The state department also says the Saudi government is responsible for executing nonviolent offenders and for torture. President Trump has not punished senior Saudi leaders. Would you?
BIDEN: Yes. And I said it at the time, Khashoggi was in fact murdered and dismembered, and I believe in the order of the Crown Prince. And I would make it very clear we were not going to in fact sell more weapons to them, we were going to in fact make them pay the price and make them in fact the pariah that they are. There’s very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia. And I would also, as pointed out, I would end subsidies that we have, end the sale of material to the Saudis — where they’re going in and murdering children and they’re murdering innocent people, and so they have to be held accountable.
The intelligence report released by U.S. officials yesterday said that their assessment was based on MBS’s “control of decision-making in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammed bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi.”
Left-wing media personalities called out Biden, with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writing that Biden “appears ready to let the murderer walk.”
“Yes, hi, I see all you folks willing to look away from the brutal slaughter of a US resident and Washington Post columnist because you like this president and thus it doesn’t bother you that Biden isn’t punishing the Saudi Royal Prince responsible,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said. “You’re wrong.”
Yes, hi, I see all you folks willing to look away from the brutal slaughter of a US resident and Washington Post columnist because you like this president and thus it doesn’t bother you that Biden isn’t punishing the Saudi Royal Prince responsible. You’re wrong.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 27, 2021
Biden also reportedly ignored questions from reporters on Saturday morning about whether he would punish MBS.
President Biden didn't answer my question (or any others) this morning when speaking on the American Rescue Plan Act
I asked if he will punish the Saudi crown prince for ordering the Khashoggi operation, per US report released yesterday pic.twitter.com/Lx1V25xWpv
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) February 27, 2021