Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Sunday joined the chorus of criticism against President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, saying the U.S. shouldn’t be warming up to a brutal dictatorship just because of the global oil crisis.
During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Sanders was asked by co-anchor Martha Raddatz whether Biden should have made the trip to Saudi Arabia, in which the president participated in talks with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman regarding energy production and human rights.
“Should Biden have gone?” Raddatz asked Sanders.
“No, I don’t think so,” Sanders responded. “You have the leader of that country who was involved in the murder of a Washington Post journalist. I don’t think that that type of government should be rewarded with a visit by the president of the United States.”
“Look, you got a family that is worth $100 billion, which crushes democracy, which treats women as third-class citizens, which murders and imprisons its opponents,” he added. “And if this country believes in anything, we believe in human rights, we believe in democracy, and I just don’t believe that we should be maintaining a warm relationship with a dictatorship like that.”
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Sanders said that instead of visiting Saudi Arabia, Biden should be ramping up his pressure on U.S. oil companies to stop “ripping off the American people.”
“If you’re looking at the outrageously high cost of gas at the pumps right now, one of the things we’ve got to look at is the fact that while Americans are now paying $4.50, $4.80 for a gallon of gas, the oil company profits in the last quarter have been extraordinarily high,” Sanders said. “And I happen to believe that we’ve got to tell the oil companies to stop ripping off the American people and if they don’t, we should impose a windfall profits tax on them.”
Biden was widely criticized by the media and members of his own party after he greeted the crown prince with a fist bump instead of a handshake on Friday, despite previously vowing to make the country a “pariah” for human rights abuses.
The Biden administration declassified a report last year blaming the crown prince for approving the operation to capture or kill journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post who was killed in 2018 by Saudi security officials.
Biden said he brought up Khashoggi’s murder during his conversation with the crown prince, but the Saudi Arabian foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, denied hearing the conversation.