Tulsi Gabbard: Saudi Promotion of 'Extremist Wahhabi Ideology' a Bigger Threat to U.S. Than Iran
Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Your World,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a candidate for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination criticized President Donald Trump’s response to an attack on an oil production facility in Saudi Arabia.
Gabbard went on to argue Saudi Arabia’s promotion of extremist Wahhabi ideology was a bigger threat to the United States than Iran.
Partial transcript as follows:
CAVUTO: All right, so the interpretation I have is that you want to bring back that Iran deal, get — move back to that.
But it does give a signal here that you’re no fan of the Saudi leadership — and many are not, I get that — but more of a fan of the leadership in Iran.
GABBARD: No, I’m a fan of the United States of America. I’m a fan of the American people.
And as president and commander in chief, I would put their interests above all else, putting the wellbeing of the American people —
CAVUTO: Is it in our interests for Saudi Arabia — is it in our interests for Saudi Arabia to be protected or its kingdom to be protected? Or do you draw a distinction?
GABBARD: Well, let me tell you what is not in our interest, is this alliance that has been longstanding between the United States and Saudi Arabia, in spite of the fact that they are directly and indirectly supporting Al Qaeda, the terrorist group that attacked us on 9/11.
We just observed the 18th anniversary of that terrible attack on our country in 2001. They are continuing to spend billions of dollars every year propagating this extremist Wahhabi ideology that’s fueling the growth of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS and others around the world.
They are directly supporting those who pose a threat to our country and the United States, that threat that we need to defeat.
CAVUTO: Is that threat greater than Iran?
GABBARD: Yes, it is. Currently, Iran doesn’t — currently, Iran doesn’t pose a direct threat to the United States.
CAVUTO: So Saudi Arabia is more of a problem for us than Iran is?
GABBARD: We have the opportunity to make sure that we prevent Iran from continuing to move forward towards developing a nuclear weapon.
That’s where we need to be focused. If I were president right now, that’s exactly what I’d be doing, getting back into that nuclear deal, getting rid of these crippling economic sanctions, and being able to make sure we can move forward in the interest of our national security.
CAVUTO: So a President Tulsi Gabbard would see Saudi Arabia as a bigger threat to our country than Iran?
GABBARD: What I would like to see is Saudi Arabia ending their support for Al Qaeda, terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, who pose a threat to the American people.
CAVUTO: I’m sorry. That’s not what I asked. That’s not what I asked.
Be — things as they are now —
GABBARD: I know. You’re turning my words around. You’re turning my words around.
CAVUTO: No, no, no, no.
I want — I want to just be very clear that — but you — you have a higher opinion of Iran than you do Saudi Arabia, as things stand now?
GABBARD: No. No, that’s not at all what I’m saying.
CAVUTO: Then explain.
GABBARD: That’s not what I’m saying.
I’m focused on how we can best keep the American people safe, on how we can make sure that we are — we have our national security intact.
And so whatever actions that we take —
CAVUTO: And the Saudis are a bigger threat? And the Saudis are a bigger threat to that safety than Iran? I just want to be clear, Congresswoman.
GABBARD: The Saudis are directly supporting the very terrorist group that attacked us on 9/11 and that continue to pose a threat to the American people today.
CAVUTO: So if the president were to take action against Iran — with or without Saudi intelligence or help — that would be a bad move, in your eyes?
GABBARD: That would be a very bad move. It wouldn’t serve the interests of the United States. It would cost thousands more of my brothers and sisters in uniform their lives. It would cost us, as taxpayers, trillions of dollars more.
It would make the Iraq War that I served in look like a picnic, compared to the cost and the consequence and the devastation that would come about as a result of that war, what — to speak of the fact that it would be unconstitutional, given the president would do that without that authority coming from Congress.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor