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Romney says Trump’s reaction to brutal murder of Saudi journalist goes against ‘basic human rights’

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney addresses supporters at his campaign headquarters during a primary election night party, Tuesday, June 26, 2018, in Orem, Utah. Romney has won the Republican primary for a Utah Senate seat, setting him on the path to restart his political career with a Senate seat left open by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Sen.-elect Mitt Romney is slamming President Donald Trump’s statements on a slain Saudi journalist, tweeting Tuesday that they are “inconsistent ... with American greatness.”

Earlier in the day, Trump had announced the U.S. would not be taking further action against Saudi Arabia for the killing of Jamal Kashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was a vocal critic of the Saudi government. The CIA has concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the brutal murder.

In his tweet, Romney took aim at the way Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have reacted to the situation.

“The President’s and Secretary of State’s Kashoggi statements to date are inconsistent with an enduring foreign policy, with our national interest, with basic human rights, and with American greatness,” the Utah Republican wrote. “Sanctions do not necessarily require ending the alliance; they do demand real and painful consequence.”

Trump’s Tuesday statement on Kashoggi — which opened with the line, “The world is a very dangerous place!” — condemned the killing but noted that the Saudi crown prince has denied involvement in the journalist’s death.

"[W]e may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Kashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran," Trump said in the statement. "The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region."

Pompeo defended the administration's decision when speaking to reporters Tuesday.

“It’s a mean, nasty world out there, the Middle East in particular,” Pompeo said, according to CBS News.

This is the second time since his election earlier this month that Romney has taken a public stand against Trump, whose popularity has dropped more dramatically in Utah than anywhere else in the nation.

Romney a couple weeks ago tweeted that, despite the firing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the special investigation into Russian election interference should continue unimpeded.

Shortly before the election, Romney, former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate, penned an essay calling the free press “essential” and reflecting on the contributions journalists have made. He wrote that Trump has vilified the media like no other president before him.

“[D]enigrating the media diminishes an institution that is critical to democracy, both here and abroad,” he wrote. “As a political tactic, it may be brilliant, but it comes with a large cost to the cause of freedom.”

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