On March 14, in the course of previewing the first veto of the Trump presidency (officially issued the following day in the interest of overriding a bipartisan resolution aimed at nullifying the border emergency), we reminded you that a second veto was locked and loaded.
For months, Congress has been angling to cut US support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, the scene of what, arguably, is the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet.
Trump’s border emergency veto came during the same week that the Senate supported a resolution to end US involvement in the years-long conflict. The vote was 54-46. As a reminder, lawmakers passed the same resolution (basically) last year, but the House never took it up. Once the House flipped to Pelosi, the push to hold the Saudis accountable for the catastrophe on their doorstep and also for the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi moved forward. The House approved the measure earlier this month on a 247-175 vote.
Needless to say, Trump’s behavior with regard to Crown Prince Bin Salman has been the subject of vociferous debate. I don’t think we need to go over this again, but the president has angered lawmakers with his willingness to look the other way on the Khashoggi killing despite a CIA assessment that faulted Prince Mohammed and despite voluminous evidence to support the common sense assessment that Riyadh was behind the murder. Trump and Mike Pompeo variously dragged their feet on complying with a Magnitsky Act request, exacerbating the situation.
Meanwhile, investigative reports showing that US weapons are ending up not only in the hands of Sunni militants allied with AQAP but also with Houthi-allied militia, suggest the US is inadvertently arming both jihadists and Iranian proxies, a situation so absurd that the English language isn’t a sufficient tool to convey the scope of the ridiculousness.
Of course Trump can’t abide by Congress’s demands to end military assistance to the Saudis in their endless quest to rout the Houthis because i) it would be an affront to Prince Mohammed, ii) the Houthis are backed by the IRGC, which the US just designated as a terror group, iii) it would be embarrassing domestically for Trump to back down and iv) it could potentially erode his ability to influence oil prices by weakening his leverage over Riyadh.
It’s not clear which of those takes precedence in this scenario, but whatever the case, Trump has vetoed the resolution and here’s his official excuse:
This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.
Literally none of that is true.
And because none of it is true, we’re not going to dignify it with any further analysis – or at least not until America’s involvement in this historic debacle blows up in everyone’s face, figuratively and maybe literally too.