In what would be a major story in a normal presidential administration, Donald Trump is planning to bypass Congress and sell billions in weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
According to The New York Times, “The Trump administration is preparing to circumvent Congress to allow the export to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of billions of dollars worth of munitions that are now on hold, according to current and former American officials and legislators familiar with the plan.”
The report notes that the administration would use an “emergency provision” to work around Congress since there is bipartisan opposition to letting the sales go forward.
More from The New York Times:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior aides are pushing for the administration to invoke an emergency provision that would allow President Trump to prevent Congress from halting the sales, worth about $7 billion. The transactions, which include precision-guided munitions and combat aircraft, would infuriate lawmakers in both parties.
They would also further inflame tensions between the United States and Iran, which views Saudi Arabia as its main rival and has been supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen in their campaign against a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates.
This spring, both the House and Senate approved bipartisan legislation to cut off military assistance to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen using the 1973 War Powers Act, only to see it vetoed in April.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, said that circumventing Congress on a Middle East arms sale would be “a big mistake,” though he added that he would need to see the specifics of such a deal.
Democrats are sounding the alarm
For their part, Democrats are already sounding the alarm about Trump’s potential move, with Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut saying that the bombs this administration plans to sell will only be used by the Saudis on civilians.
“To state the obvious, there is no new emergency reason to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia to drop in Yemen,” Sen. Murphy said in a tweet. “The Saudis been dropping the bombs on civilians, so if there is an emergency, it’s a humanitarian emergency caused by the bombs we sell the Saudis.”
The Democrat added that both parties “should stand up right now” to tell Trump to abandon his “dangerous” push to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.
5/ If he does this, it’s because Trump knows he would lose a vote on the sale —Congress and the American public object to selling these bombs to the Saudis. But it’s not too late – Ds and Rs should stand up right now and tell the President not to set this dangerous precedent.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 22, 2019
Trump has countless Saudi conflicts of interest
The move to unilaterally sell weapons to Saudi Arabia is only the latest instance in which this president has shown that he is wholly owned by the Saudis.
Last year, when Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally killed by the Saudis, Trump shrugged his shoulders. The administration essentially led a cover-up on behalf of the Saudi crown prince.
As The Times also noted on Thursday, the administration has supported the Saudis in the Yemen conflict leading to “thousands of civilians killed and millions suffering from famine.”
On a personal and business level, Trump has also benefited financially from the Saudis for decades. In 2017 alone, according to The Washington Post, Saudi Arabian lobbyists pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Trump’s D.C. hotel.
Like we’ve seen with Russia repeatedly since he took office, this is a president who makes it blatantly clear when a foreign adversary has him by the neck.
In his push to ignore Congress and sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, Trump is again demonstrating that he will always put his own personal interests above the country.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.