Larry Kudlow on Jamal Khashoggi: If Saudi Arabia Killed Him, Trump ‘Will Take Action’

‘We will take stern action with the Saudis if necessary’

WALLACE:  Let me move on to another subject.  The mysterious disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and concerns that he went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was murdered.

The president said this week that he does not intend to impinge in any way on the $110 billion arms sale to the Saudis.  Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says he still plans to go to the economic conference in Riyadh this next week.

So as far as the Trump administration is concerned, it's business as usual with the Saudis?

KUDLOW:  Well, look, the president several times said we want a prompt, swift, open transparent investigation.  I mean, the Khashoggi story is a tragedy for Khashoggi and his family members as well as for everybody else.  
Terrible thing.  So we don't know yet.  Allegations are being made but we withheld our views.

The administration will be carefully, carefully monitoring it this week.  I think the president wants a very prompt resolution of what exactly happened and we'll see what actions are necessary should we find some results coming in this week.

Regarding Secretary Mnuchin at the moment, he is scheduled to go to a meeting in Saudi.  That meeting is about terrorist financing and how to stop it.  It's a very important meeting.  But he too, like the president, will want to see how things go in the Saudi investigation or the general investigation of the Khashoggi tragedy before he makes a final decision.

WALLACE:  In the interview, on "60 Minutes" tonight, President Trump says if it turns out that Khashoggi was murdered by the Saudis, there will be serious consequences.  Take a look at this clip.


TRUMP:  May be especially so because this man was a reporter.  There's something -- you'll be surprised to hear me say that -- there's something really terrible and disgusting about that if that were the case.  So, we're going to have to see.  We're going to get to the bottom of it and they will be severe punishment.


WALLACE:  The question is what kind of severe punishment?  If the $110 billion arms sales is off the table and the president has made it clear he intends to go through with that with the Saudis, what can you do?

KUDLOW:  Well, Chris, look, as in every case when the president speaks, when the president warns, people should take him at his word.  Obviously, he is very, very serious.  I'm not going to get ahead of the curve.  He'll decide what the proper actions are if indeed we find out that Saudis were involved.

I don't know that this morning.  Probably nobody knows that just yet.  But take him at his word, if the Saudis are involved, if Khashoggi was killed or harmed or whatever, bad outcome here.

He will take action.  And that has been his strategy, believe what he says. It's a lot like what the reverend coming out of Turkey.

You know, American foreign policy now has reclaimed, what, 18 or 20 hostages around the world.  Now, Khashoggi is on a hostage situation, I get that.  But from North Korea and Turkey and elsewhere, that's been part of our foreign policy triad (ph).  We will take stern action with the Saudis if necessary.  Take the president at his word.

WALLACE:  I went to squeeze into more questions, Larry.

First of all, the Saudis again today again denied that they had anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance and say if the U.S. takes actions, they will retaliate.  Does that concern you?

KUDLOW:  Well, I'll leave it there.  I'll leave it.  Whatever that is, it's up to the president and his foreign policy team.  We will see, Chris.

WALLACE:  I mean, obviously, they can have an impact on energy prices around the world.

KUDLOW:  Well, that's true.  By the way, the United States is the dominant energy player, so we are in pretty good shape, in my opinion, with our energy boom to cover any shortfalls.  That may be a small part of the story.  We'll wait and see.

But rest assured that when the president says we will take actions if we find out -- if we find out bad outcomes, he means it.  He's always meant it.  That's been part of his foreign policy from day one.

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