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Marco Rubio: It’s Worth Blowing Up Relationship With Saudi Arabia Over Human Rights

Sen. Marco Rubio spoke out against Saudi Arabia’s alleged killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi on CNN Tuesday and held that human rights are more important than U.S. relations with the Gulf nation.

Trump has framed his reluctance to strongly condemn Saudi Arabia around his fears of jeopardizing arms deals with the country, totaling at least $9 billion since 2013.

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota noted Trump’s concerns about the arms deals and added that Rubio himself sees Saudi Arabia as a valuable hedge against Iran’s influence in the Middle East. “Is one journalist’s gruesome murder enough to blow all of that up?” she asked.

“Well, I can tell you that human rights is worth blowing that up,” Rubio replied. “And luring someone into a consulate where they’re murdered, dismembered and disposed of is a big deal. By the way, this happens to be a green card holder of the United States who has been a journalist, but he could have been a maintenance worker at The Washington Post, it wouldn’t have mattered.

“It’s a human being whose life was taken by a direct act of a foreign government by luring him into a diplomatic facility in a third country,” he continued. “I mean, any one of those factors is bad, put them all together and it’s catastrophic.”

Rubio added that the U.S. can sell arms to other countries. “I don’t care how much money it is, there isn’t enough money in the world to purchase back our credibility on human rights.

Camerota also asked Rubio about CNN’s report that Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that Khashoggi was killed, but inadvertently in a rogue interrogation gone wrong. The CNN host asked if he believes that cover story.

“Where’s the body?” Rubio replied. “Why wasn’t the family notified? Why have they spent the better part of eight or nine days saying they didn’t know anything about it? There’s all the things that didn’t happen here. Why’d you sent 18 people, whatever it was, to fly into Turkey and leave immediately afterwards.”

“This is a catastrophe for them,” Rubio continued. “This is a fear we’ve had for a long time, is that the [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] is a young and aggressive guy that would over-estimate how much room he had to do things, would get over-aggressive, overestimate his capabilities and create a problem such as this.”

Rubio noted that outreach to Saudi Arabia was “big part” of the Trump administration’s Middle East strategy, in an attempt to “hedge against Iran’s ambitions in the region.”

The risk of that strategy, Rubio added, was the crown prince’s recklessness.

“Now this would really blow apart our Middle Eastern strategy. It’s something we have to address from a human rights standpoint,” Rubio said. “Just because the country we’re working with did it doesn’t mean the U.S. can just shrug its shoulders and say nothing happened here.”

Watch above, via CNN.

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