Sen. Chris Murphy did a good job hitting back against Jake Tapper's attempts to blame President Biden for Putin's war in Ukraine and whether he was "played" by the Saudis.
October 9, 2022

Sen. Chris Murphy did a good job hitting back against Jake Tapper's attempts to blame President Biden for Putin's war in Ukraine and whether he was "played" by the Saudis. While discussing Biden's remarks that "Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons amounted to the most serious “prospect of Armageddon” in 60 years," here's Tapper's right wing framing on the issue to Murphy:

TAPPER: Somebody I know who has ties to the Ukrainian government expressed concern to me that President Biden might be playing into Putin's hands by escalating the rhetoric. Perhaps those European allies who are already a little wobbly when it comes to standing up against Putin, might to wobblier and think, God, if we keep going down this path, we're going to have a nuclear war.

Murphy responded by placing the blame for any escalation squarely where it belongs... in Putin's lap.

MURPHY: Well, this war can end if Vladimir Putin decides to get his troops and personnel out of Ukraine. He made a decision to invade a sovereign neighboring country, and the blood today and tomorrow is on his hands.

Now, I think the president has made the right call to be very clear with Putin about what we're going to do and what we're not going to do. We're not putting U.S. troops in Ukraine. We have been careful about transferring weapons to Ukraine that they could use to make attacks inside Russia.

And I think as long as we communicate the lines that we are not willing to cross, then the danger for escalation lessens, but I don't want to get into a world in which we start blaming ourselves for escalation. This is Putin's war, and it's his decision as to whether it ends.

Tapper then proceeded to do the same thing during a discussion about OPEC cutting oil production. Tapper asked Murphy about his call for Biden to "make a wholesale reevaluation of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia" and whether he should stop arm sales to the Saudis. Murphy responded that "we need to rethink those sales" and "lift the exemption that we have given this OPEC-plus cartel from U.S. price fixing liability" along with looking at our troop presence in the Middle East, before blasting them for siding with the Russians.

MURPHY: We wanted to know that when the chips were down, when there was a global crisis, that the Saudis would choose us instead of Russia.

Well, they didn't. They chose Russia. They chose to back up the Russians, drive up oil prices which could have the potential to fracture our Ukraine coalition, and there's got to be consequences for that.

So, whether it's lifting the cartel's immunity or whether it's rethinking our troop presence there, our security relationship, I just think it's time to admit that the Saudis are not looking out for us.

Tapper pressed Murphy on whether Biden got "played" by the Saudis by agreeing to meet with Mohammed bin Salman. Murphy made it clear that this problem didn't start with Joe Biden.

MURPHY: I don't have any problem with American presidents meeting with our friends or adversaries. I think it's clear right now the relationship is broken. It's been broken under Democratic presidents and Republican presidents. I'm never going to criticize an American president for meeting with another leader. It's clear we didn't get as much as we needed to from that meeting.

Tapper then asked if Biden gave "MBS legitimacy" with the meeting. Murphy explained what the U.S. should do in response to make sure that isn't the case and why it's ridiculous to assert we Biden shouldn't be meeting or talking with the Saudis at all.

MURPHY: We have important equities with the Saudis. It's naive to think we shouldn't be talking to them. But we can remove any hint of legitimacy that meeting gives by downgrading our security relationship, removing their liability. There are steps we can take to make it clear to the Saudis there there's going to be a price to be paid if you take our weapons, if you accept the royal cover we give you for your human rights crimes and you get in bed with the Russians on oil production.

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