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GOP Sen Rand Paul says Saudi explanation of Khashoggi death is insult, prince must be replaced

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) isn't buying the Saudi's story about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He also told Fox News he believes Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman should be replaced over the incident. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Saudi government’s statement that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in a fistfight at its consulate in Turkey is an insult any intelligent person, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News Sunday.

What were his comments?

"I think it’s insulting to anyone who’s analyzing this with any kind of intelligent background to think that, oh, a fistfight led to a dismemberment with a bone saw," said Paul, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations committee. He was referencing reports that a member of a Saudi squad was seen with a bone saw at the embassy.

Paul added: "I think we should put this brazen attack, this brazen murder in context with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has basically over the decades been the largest state sponsor of radical Islam and violent jihad. They sponsor thousands of madrassas that teach hatred of Christians and Jews and Hindus around the world. So, this isn’t the first instance, this is just another in the line of long instances of Saudi insults to the civilized world."

He also suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman should be “replaced” over the incident.

Paul told host Chris Wallace on Sunday that he feels “certain that the crown prince was involved and that he directed this. And that’s why I think we cannot continue to have relations with him. And so, I think he’s gonna have to be replaced, frankly."

Authorities in Saudi Arabia claim 18 suspects were taken into custody and intelligence officials were fired over the incident. Earlier this month, the government said Khashoggi left their embassy unharmed.

What was his response to Trump's stance?

President Trump has indicated he does not plan to cancel a billion-dollar arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The president said that would only punish what he called a “tremendous order for our companies.” Saudi Arabia could also simply purchase the weapons elsewhere, he added.

Paul said he doesn’t believe ‘arms’ should ever be viewed as a jobs program. They’re not something that’s owned by private companies, they’re owned by the country, he said.

“I think we should never sell arms to any country unless it’s in our national security interest,” Paul added.

The kingdom warned in a statement from the state-run Saudi Press Agency that it will “respond with greater action” if the U.S. retaliates. The release also noted that the Kingdom's economy has “an influential and vital role in the global economy."

Paul told the news outlet that trade sanctions would not be as effective as Saudia Arabia changing its behavior.

“I don’t think we should quit trading with Saudi Arabia. I think we should specifically quit aiding and abetting them in an aggressive war in Yemen,” Paul said.

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