'(Biden) missed opportunity to rethink the alliance' with Saudi Arabia: Fred Hiatt

George Stephanopoulos interviews Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.
4:21 | 02/28/21

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Transcript for '(Biden) missed opportunity to rethink the alliance' with Saudi Arabia: Fred Hiatt
he had been killed? I wanted to believe he was alive until the end, she says, it wasn't until the Saudis confessed they killed him. That I acknowledged the horrible tragedy of what has happened. The fiancee of Jamal khashoggi when he was murdered by Saudi operatives. Now we're joined by khashoggi's friend and colleague from the Washington post, Fred Hiatt. Your editorial page wrote that president Biden is giving the crown prince a pass. What more should he be doing? Well, hi, George, and thanks for having me. I think the question is, what can you do so that the next time mbs or another would-be butcher like that is thinking about doing a heinous crime like this will stop and think, it's not worth doing? And so far, the calculation for him is, you know, paid a price, and the release of the report last week was a good step forward but it's not a sufficient price, and, you know, Biden's own treasury secretary Janet Yellen last week said that those responsible for the reprehensible murder of Jamal khashoggi must be held accountable. We know thousand that the man most responsible is the crown prince. And he hasn't yet been held accountable. As you know the administration is trying to strike a balance in the words of secretary of state blinken, they don't want to rupture the relationship, even your editorial page acknowledged that we need Saudi Arabia's cooperation with counterterrorism, global oil markets, can we afford to rupture the relationship over this? Well, two things about that, George. First, I think this was a missed opportunity to rethink the alliance and how important Saudi Arabia is now to the united States and why. Why are we making an alliance with a dictator who's making trouble in the region, but even more there's a bigger issue here going on all around the world, which is dictators like mbs and Putin and XI jinping are not only repressing their own people they're reaching beyond their borders to harass and kidnap and intimidate and assassinate in a way of striking fear at home and abroad, and if the United States and its fellow democraies don't stand up against that, then we'll live in a world where nobody feels safe anywhere. Even inside the borders of the United States. I'd say that's a more important principle even than the alliance with Saudi Arabia. Jamal khashoggi was a brave journalist, a colleague of yours at the Washington post, what should the world know about what he was doing and why he was murdered? He was a brave journalist, as you said, he really had the interest of Saudi Arabia at heart, he didn't want to be seen as a dissident, he wanted to believe the crown prince on the days he talks about reform really meant it. To let its own people act and live freely. Live to their potential. Why would the crown prince killed somebody like that? It shows how afraid he is of his own people. It's like a crime boss who says, you know, if I can get away with this, kill a "Washington post" columnist who's a northern Virginia legal resident, then I can get away with anything and everybody will be afraid of me. You know, I think there are things the United States could do, there are travel bans, asset freezes, we had an op-ed a couple of years ago, the president of the Columbia university and a legal scholar, who said there are ways the United States could charge mbs criminally, now that wasn't going to happen when you had the trump administration with Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner and Donald Trump fawning over this murderer. But maybe now it becomes possible. Fred, I'm afraid we're out of time. Thanks very much for remembering Jamal khashoggi. That's all for us. Check out "World news tonight."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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