“Please,” Pelosi said. “They’re sitting across from the person who chopped up a reporter and dissolved his remains in chemicals, and he’s sitting across the chair from the person suspected of leaving that. I don’t see any responsibility for us to protect and defend Saudi Arabia.”
Pelosi’s comments to NPR come as the Trump administration, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have tried to build international support for retaliation against Iran, which has denied responsibility for the attacks that crippled Saudi oil output and set global oil prices upward.
Trump on Thursday announced he would impose new financial sanctions, but some in his administration and on Capitol Hill are pushing for a military strike to deter Iran from further destabilizing attacks in the region.
Pelosi, however, suggested that the U.S. would be ill-served by intervening militarily on behalf of the Saudis. She, along with most Democrats, have been highly critical of Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and five U.S. allies. That agreement was opposed by the Saudis, who feared it would legitimize and economically strengthen their regional rival in the Middle East.
“I do not think we have a responsibility to protect and defend Saudi Arabia,” she said. “What agreement is that a part of?”
Khashoggi, who wrote numerous columns critical of the crown prince, entered the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul on Oct. 2 last year and was never seen alive again. U.S. intelligence reports tracked a Saudi hit team as it traveled to Istanbul and back to the kingdom. After nearly six weeks of shifting explanations, the Saudi government called it a kidnapping gone awry and blamed a rogue band of operatives sent to spirit Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia.
Intelligence officials have cited evidence suggesting Khashoggi’s killing was planned in advance and have directly implicated Mohammed bin Salman in ordering the operation. The Trump administration has maintained friendly relations with the crown prince, and Pompeo met with him Wednesday to discuss the response to the oil attacks.
Pelosi said she was skeptical Trump would move beyond financial sanctions: “I don’t think the president wants a strike in Iran,” she said. “He knows there’s no appetite in our country to go to war.”