The Trump administration was shocked to learn it couldn’t just sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia
America has learned a lot of disconcerting things about President Donald Trump's top security aide, national security adviser Michael Flynn, over the past week. And, thanks to a new report from the New York Times, we can now add to that list the fact that Flynn reportedly wanted to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without support from the State Department or Congress.
To be fair, Flynn didn't intend to bypass the mechanisms that mandate arms sales go through State and the Hill. Rather, the Islamophobic ex-general simply didn't know that these mechanisms existed.
Per the Times' reporting:
Two people with direct access to the White House leadership said Mr. Flynn was surprised to learn that the State Department and Congress play a pivotal role in foreign arms sales and technology transfers. So it was a rude discovery that Mr. Trump could not simply order the Pentagon to send more weapons to Saudi Arabia — which is clamoring to have an Obama administration ban on the sale of cluster bombs and precision-guided weapons lifted — or to deliver bigger weapons packages to the United Arab Emirates.
During the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump campaign repeatedly blasted Hillary Clinton after it was discovered that her family foundation had received between $10 and $25 million from the Saudi royal family. In a June 13 Facebook post, Trump called on Clinton to return those donations.
"Crooked Hillary says we must call on Saudi Arabia and other countries to stop funding hate," Trump wrote. "I am calling on her to immediately return the $25 million plus she got from them for the Clinton Foundation!"
After those donations were made public, Clinton faced intense scrutiny over her role in approving major weapons deals with Saudi Arabia during her tenure as Secretary of State. Despite that relatively recent history, Flynn appears to have forgotten that the State Department plays a role in those transactions.
Just before leaving office, former President Barack Obama blocked a controversial weapons package with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain over concerns about human rights abuses in those countries.
Trump criticized those same human rights abuses on multiple occasions during the campaign.
"You talk about women and women's rights," Trump said, challenging Clinton on the issue of Saudi Arabia during a Fox News debate in October. "These are people who who push gays off buildings. These are people who kill women and treat women horribly."
Now that Trump has taken office, those abuses appear to be less of a concern to his administration.