Sen. Lindsey Graham on Saudi Arabia: They Need Us More Than We Need Them


Sen. Lindsey Graham comments on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the midterm elections in an interview with FNC's Maria Bartiromo.

BARTIROMO: Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who sits on the Armed Services and Judiciary Committee, joins me right now in an exclusive interview.

Senator, good to see you. Thanks very much for joining us.


BARTIROMO: Your reaction to the Saudis explanation?

GRAHAM: Well, I don't think it's credible at all.

It's ridiculous to believe that 18 people would go to Turkey to kill -- to kill Mr. Khashoggi, and nobody in the government know about it. That would be brazen abuse of authority. He was clearly murdered in a consulate. Things like that don't happen in Saudi Arabia without people at the top knowing.

We will find out more. I like the president's measured response. I like the idea he wants to consult with Congress about what to do. They are an ally, but they need us more than we need them.

BARTIROMO: So, what would you like to see done about it, Senator?

GRAHAM: Once we get all the facts in, I would like to go after the people who put -- put us in this box.

This is the most in-your-face move by a Mideast ally outside -- maybe ever. To kill a man and a consulate in a foreign country, extrajudicial killing, shows contempt for the relationship. I would like to punish those involved. The Global Magnitsky Act would put punishment, sanctions on the individuals that had a hand in this.

And I find it impossible to believe that the crown prince wasn't involved. So, go after him and his inner circle. Save the alliance. I don't mind military sales, but I cannot do business with the current leadership. MBS, he's done to me.

BARTIROMO: Well, initially, you had said you want MBS out. You said you weren't going to travel to Saudi Arabia unless there's a change there.

GRAHAM: I said...

BARTIROMO: But this is the man who has been leading this modernization program, apparently...


BARTIROMO: ... who has teamed up with the United States to have a unified front against Iran.


BARTIROMO: So when you're talking about Saudi Arabia, you have to talk about Iran, right? So what about that?

GRAHAM: Absolutely.

Well, there's -- Saudi Arabia's a natural enemy of Iran. MBS talks about reforming the country in a way that I liked.

I have never felt more used in my life. I introduced him when he was in Washington. But he imprisoned a Lebanese prime minister. He embargoed the country of Qatar without telling us. And I see a heavy hand inside of Saudi Arabia. And I believe he is responsible for the killing of Mr. Khashoggi in the most brutal way.

I think his behavior is way outside of civilized norms. And I will never go back as long as he's there. You will never convince me that he didn't do this. And our values ought to mean something. And I think they do. And I look forward to working with the president to find a solution to this.

But I'm not going to look the other way. Every time you look the other way in the Middle East, from the Taliban to Iran, you regret it. So there's no looking away from me.

BARTIROMO: Well, are we surprised that this brutality came out of Saudi Arabia, that this, the country that had 15 out of the 19 hijackers...

GRAHAM: Yes. Yes.

BARTIROMO: ... slam into the Twin Towers on 9/11?


Yes, I'm surprised. I'm surprised that a country who calls itself an ally of the United States would murder a man in a consulate in a foreign country. It shows complete contempt for our values. This is not exactly reforming Saudi Arabia.

We have got plenty of people in the world who will cut up -- Saudi Arabia is an ally, but this behavior is outside the norm, to the point that the people involved need to be removed, in my view.

Saudi Arabia is a country. MBS is a person. And I'm willing to try to separate the two. But I am not going to accept this. If we accept this, every other person who could do this will. And the next thing you know, our enemies are going to lose respect for us, and we will lose our moral voice. And that's a voice that cannot afford to be lost.

BARTIROMO: Bottom line here, there's an arms deal on the table, $100 billion in arms sales.

GRAHAM: Right. Right.

BARTIROMO: Should the U.S. go through with it with Saudi?

GRAHAM: I'm OK with going through the deal if they show they're going to change, if they deal with the people responsible in a fashion consistent with what happened here.

I'm not willing to do business as usual unless they change. So my beef is not with Saudi Arabia, the country. My beef is with this young leader who's taken the law in his own hands, shown nothing but contempt for the relationship, and has acted in such a barbaric fashion.

I don't mind selling arms to Saudi Arabia if they change.

BARTIROMO: Let me -- let me ask you about arms sales with regard to Russia.

The U.S. is going to be withdrawing from this landmark nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, the president confirmed yesterday.

GRAHAM: Yes. Yes.

BARTIROMO: Your thoughts. Right move?

GRAHAM: Absolutely the right move.

The Russians have been cheating. The Chinese are building up their -- their missile -- I like President Trump being tough. He walked away from the Iran deal because it was a joke of a deal. Obama tried to ignore and appease the Iranians and see what you got. I don't want to ignore and appease the Saudi Arabians, because the Mideast needs to change.

I like being tough on Russia. And walking away from this deal is a good decision, because the Russians never honored their end of the bargain. And the Chinese are moving forward with their weapons program. And we need to counter it.

BARTIROMO: And then there's the other nuclear power, which is, of course, North Korea.

GRAHAM: Yes, right.

BARTIROMO: What do we know here in terms of the president's upcoming meeting in China at the G20? China obviously critical to that relationship.

GRAHAM: Right.

BARTIROMO: What can you tell us about North Korea and the U.S. right now?

GRAHAM: We would not be talking with North Korea if it were not for Donald Trump's strength.

He told him Kim Jong-un, we will not let you develop a missile with a nuclear weapon on top to hit America. Your provocative actions have to come to an end.

We have a dialogue with North Korea that is hopeful. It's due to President Trump being strong. I think the North Koreans believe that President Trump would use military force if he had to.

I'm hoping we can get a deal where they give up their nuclear program, they have security and prosperity. China needs to help us. So, I'm very pleased with what Trump's done with North Korea and Iran.

BARTIROMO: Well, China has also been helpful there. But, of course, we are in the middle of a fight with China.


BARTIROMO: The president expected to meet with Xi Jinping at the G20 meeting coming up in the next couple of months.

What's your take in terms of this fight with China? This can go on a long time. You're dealing with a dictator for life.


Well, it's a long overdue fight about trade. China steals our intellectual property. They have state-owned enterprises that no American business can compete with.

The bottom line here is that China requires a Chinese business partner for you to do business in China. They steal your intellectual property. It's time for somebody to push back against China's cheating in the trade arena. And Trump is doing it.

I don't like tariffs, but they are a tool to get China to change. China's economy is weaker than ours. So I appreciate President Trump doing multiple -- multiple things at the same time, against Iran, trying to get a better deal with North Korea, taking China on, on trade, working with them on North Korea, standing up to Russia.

And I hope he will come down hard on Saudi Arabia. We need a strong leader in this world. We had eight years of weak with Obama. I'm tired of weak. I like strong. Keep being strong, Mr. President. You will win all these fights if you stay strong.

BARTIROMO: Well, this relationship with China is critical, the two largest economies.


BARTIROMO: They're trying to be number one in all of the industries America wants to be number one in, like robotics and blockchain technology, et cetera.

GRAHAM: Right.

BARTIROMO: But this issue is more than just economic, as Vice President Mike Pence said recently, in terms of China's approach to its rivals and the military.

Here's Vice President Pence a couple of weeks ago:


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we speak, Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach to advance its influence and benefit its interests. It's employing this power in more proactive and coercive ways to interfere in the domestic policies of this country and to interfere in the politics of the United States.

The Chinese Communist Party is rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state and federal officials.

And, worst of all, China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections.


BARTIROMO: What's your take, Senator? I mean, China won't even admit that they have been stealing out I.P. for decades. They're obviously trying to dominate the South China Sea, creating islands and putting military bases on them.

What do we do?

GRAHAM: Well, thank God for Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

We tell the truth. We stand up to China. They are spreading money throughout the country, trying to buy support within the country. They oppress their own people. They're building islands over land claimed by others.

They are a big economy, but we're a stronger economy. It's not too much to ask China to play by the rules. We need the right WTO rules that recognize China's a developed nation, not a developing nation.

At the end of the day, Mike Pence is right. When we stand up for our values, and when we stand up to our enemies, we're a lot better off than when we ignore the problem. I have had eight years of ignoring the problem under Barack Obama. It's finally time for somebody to take China on.

Trust me, their economy is weaker than ours. I want a good deal with China, not a fake good deal. And we will get one.

BARTIROMO: All right, stay with me, Senator.

More of my exclusive interview with Senator Lindsey Graham, including new developments in that migrant caravan that made the United States its final destination, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" right after this.


BARTIROMO: Senator, thanks so much for being here.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

BARTIROMO: We were talking moments ago about China.

I want to turn to this caravan headed to the United States from Guatemala.


BARTIROMO: The numbers are incredible, 4,000-plus people claiming amnesty and wanting to get into this country.


BARTIROMO: What should the U.S. do?

GRAHAM: Get Mexico to stop them before they get to the United States.

Have Mexico work with the United Nations and the United States to deal with refugees before they get to our borders. I really appreciate -- appreciate Mexico upping their game.

Trump is tough. Mexico is listening to Trump. They're responding to toughness. These caravans need to be stopped in Mexico. It's an affront to our sovereignty.

I will be practical with illegal immigrants who have been in America for decades. I'm not going to tolerate any more coming here through caravans. And we need to change our laws to disincentivize this behavior.

But Mexico's the key. We need to work with them. And the president is.

BARTIROMO: Well, look, your colleague on the House Kevin McCarthy is bringing a bill to the floor to fund the president's border wall. And he's pretty confident it's going to pass the House. What about the Senate?

Are you going to vote for it?

GRAHAM: Yes, we need $5 billion for the wall. The Senate has a billion-and-a-half.

I think we can get the extra money. We need to deal with the DACA problem, which is a real problem, 690,000 people who've been here since there were 6 years old, with no place to go. We need to change our laws, so if you bring your kids here, the whole family gets deported.

You don't want to incentivize people bringing children to America, and somehow they get a better deal if they bring kids.

Mexico is the key. These caravans have to go through Mexico. Well, Mexico should stop them. And I really appreciate President Trump being tough.

When it comes to Saudi Arabia, we need the alliance, but we don't need this behavior. When it comes to Russia, let's get out of a bad deal and get a better one. And when it comes to China, stand up to them and work with them.

This whole Trump approach to being tough is paying off.

BARTIROMO: How -- how important will these issues be in the upcoming midterm elections? Do you think people will be voting on the economy, on immigration, health care, or something else?

GRAHAM: On everything.

I think people are going to be voting on the mob rule of the Democratic Party. If you elect Democrats to run the House, you know exactly what you're going to get. They're going to try to impeach and president and impeach Kavanaugh.

They don't care about your wallet. They just want to get in your wallet. If you keep Republicans in charge, we're going to keep the economy moving forward. We're going to secure our border. We're going to deal with our enemies throughout the world. We're going to rebuild our military.

Kavanaugh, to me, was a despicable episode in the history of the Senate. These caravans will never be stopped by Nancy Pelosi. And when it comes to standing up to the world, you need a strong leader like President Trump.

And the Democratic Party has showed us what they would do with power, not much for you, a lot for the left.

BARTIROMO: And, yes, I mean, these are a lot of important issues.

One of the reasons you mentioned Kavanaugh, the president is handpicking you to go out on the road to try to campaign for some of your colleagues going into the midterm elections.

GRAHAM: Yes. Yes.

BARTIROMO: Tell us about that, what you're planning. And you're going to be campaigning in, what, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and North Carolina?

GRAHAM: Right, 13 states in 12 days with a simple message.

I'm going to build up the Republican nominee. They're all talented men and women. And I'm going to let everybody in these states know what happens if you put the Democratic Party in charge of this country. You're rewarding mob rule. You're undercutting the rule of law.

Don't give these people power. The best thing you can do to make sure that Kavanaugh -- Kavanaugh never happens again is punish them for what they were willing to do to this good man. I'm going to take this on the road.

And next -- two weeks from Tuesday, we can decide, what kind of country do you want to be? You want to be the country of people that run you up and down the hall and spit on you? Or do you want to be a country of Republicans who can actually deliver for working families out there, that will put good judges on the court, that will stand up to the enemies of this country?

Nancy Pelosi will welcome the caravans here. Donald Trump and the rest of us will stop them.

BARTIROMO: Well, this mob-like activity took place again this weekend with Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao getting -- getting harassed while -- while having dinner at a restaurant.

It's pretty extraordinary, actually.

Does the president need to say something about this? I mean, he's getting criticized on the left for the body-slam comment.

GRAHAM: Name one Democrat who said it's wrong for the mob to chase Mitch and Ted Cruz and me and Susan around. Name one Democratic leader has who stood up to these thugs.

I'm so proud of our Republican colleagues, Susan Collins, Mitch McConnell, for standing in there and not being overrun by these mobs. They can follow me wherever they want to follow me. We're going to keep doing what I'm doing.

And here in South Carolina, if you take me on, you're taking on most of the state. So I wouldn't advise it to happen down here.

BARTIROMO: Well, you're also voting for this agenda to continue.

The president talked this weekend, yesterday, and told reporters he and Kevin Brady in the House Ways and Means Committee working on a new tax cut for individuals, for the middle class.

Can you tell me us about that? Would something like that pass the Senate?

GRAHAM: We're trying to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent.

The more Republicans we have in the Senate, the more we can get done. We have done a lot with 51. We have deregulated the country. We have cut taxes. We put two Supreme -- Supreme Court judges who are great conservatives.

If we had three or four more, we could do a lot more in the Senate. We want to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent. We want to rebuild the military. We want to keep our enemies on the run. And we're going to ask our friends to respect our values.

And if you can't respect our values, you're really not our friend. So I like where the country is headed.

Here's the question November the 6th. Do you want to change directions from where we're going and turn over power to the people who would destroy Brett Kavanaugh's life and turn our country into a group of mob -- mob rule people? Not me.


Well, look, this midterm election has so many consequences. We just heard from Chairman Bob Goodlatte about his investigation, the Judiciary Committee's investigation into how the Trump collusion investigation was handled and the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation was handled.


BARTIROMO: This upcoming week, you have got Rod Rosenstein sitting down with the Judiciary and Oversight chairmen, doing a transcribed interview.

GRAHAM: Right. Right.

BARTIROMO: But it seems like Rod Rosenstein is writing the rules. He's -- he's put the ground rules in place in terms of who should be at that hearing and who shouldn't.

Are you comfortable with the way this is going?

GRAHAM: Not really.

I want the House to keep doing what they're doing. And if -- if Nancy Pelosi takes over, all this goes away. So I like what Goodlatte and Trey and those guys are doing trying to get to the bottom of it.

At the end of the day, I see no evidence of collusion. Mueller will wrap his report up soon. You know, we got a country to run here. I like what President Trump has done here at home and abroad. I do not like what my Democratic colleagues were willing to do to Kavanaugh.

This is about the most simple choice you will ever have in your life if you're a voter...

BARTIROMO: Senator, I understand.

GRAHAM: ... between what we're doing and what they're doing.

BARTIROMO: Yes, I mean, I understand, but, I mean, where's the accountability? Will there ever be accountability in this investigation?

You have got Glenn Simpson taking the Fifth. You have got Nellie Ohr saying she's going to hide behind some priority because of spousal priorities.


GRAHAM: Yes. Yes. Yes.

BARTIROMO: Are we going to ever get to the bottom of this?

Or if the House flips in a couple of weeks, we don't hear another word about this investigation?

GRAHAM: Right.

Well, the House promises to impeach the president and Kavanaugh. I think Republicans are going to continue to try to hold the FBI and Department of Justice accountable for abuse of power.

If I'm the chairman of the Judiciary Committee next year, we hold the Senate, I promise you we're going to find out about the Simpson-Fusion GPS problem. I promise you we're going to get to the bottom of how they used a dossier, prepared by a foreign agent, paid for by the Democratic Party, to get a warrant against an American citizen.

We're not going to turn our back on this. If I'm chairman, we're going to get to the bottom of this. And the only way for me to be chairman is for us to hold the Senate.

BARTIROMO: Well, are you going to declassify...

GRAHAM: And I have got to go talk to these people behind me.


BARTIROMO: Are you going to declassify some of these documents, so the American people know what went on? Why won't the president declassify?

Should this Mueller report be public?

GRAHAM: I would like it to be public.

The bottom line here is that you got to work with the White House to make sure we don't jeopardize the sources and methods. But I want you to know as much as you can know about how it got so off the rails.

I want you to know as much as you can know about FBI agents colluding with the Department of Justice to undercut Trump and to help Clinton. I want you to know how an American citizen can have a warrant issued against them based on a document prepared by a foreign agent, paid for by the Democratic Party.

I want you to know how that happened, because it's important it never happen again.

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