Nikki Haley, the outgoing U.N. ambassador, directly blamed the government of Saudi Arabia for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, expressing the strongest criticism on the foreign government from the Trump administration.
Speaking with NBC’s Craig Melvin in an interview that aired Wednesday, Ms. Haley didn’t say that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination — something the administration has been trying to avoid commenting on.
However, she did say that if the Saudi government is responsible, the blame ultimately lies with him.
“It was the Saudi government, and MBS is the head of the Saudi government,” she said, NBC News reported. “So they are all responsible, and they don’t get a pass, not an individual, not the government — they don’t get a pass.”
Ms. Haley’s criticism is a stark difference from comments made by her fellow diplomat Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
During his interview on Fox News Wednesday morning, Mr. Pompeo said Mr. Khashoggi’s murder was “heinous” and stressed that the U.S. took steps to sanction those involved. However, he refused to comment on the crown prince’s alleged involvement.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia decides who is running the country,” he said. “We are working closely with the kingdom to make sure America is protected.”
Ms. Haley did acknowledge that the Saudis have been a key ally in dealing with Iran, where they need to continue cooperating with them.
“I think we need to have a serious, hard talk with the Saudis to let them know we won’t condone this. We won’t give you a pass and don’t do this again,” she said. “And then I think that the administrations have to talk about where we go from here.”
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