Key senators pass on reacting to Trump Qatar tweets

Qatar accused of supporting terror
Qatar accused of supporting terror

    JUST WATCHED

    Qatar accused of supporting terror

MUST WATCH

Qatar accused of supporting terror 03:39

Story highlights

  • Gulf nations have announced their plans to sever ties with Qatar over terrorism
  • President Donald Trump tweeted that it was because of his message from his foreign trip

Washington (CNN)The two top members of the Senate foreign relations committee said they're still evaluating the bombshell decision by countries in the Persian Gulf to diplomatically freeze out Qatar, as well as the President's reaction to the crisis.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the committee, was visibly stunned to hear from reporters that Trump appeared to take credit on Twitter for the countries' decision to sever ties with Qatar.
"The President?" he responded to a scrum of journalists who asked him to respond to the President's tweets. "When did that occur?"
    Earlier Tuesday, Trump tweeted that it was "so good" to see that his visit with leaders of Gulf countries during his foreign trip last month was "already paying off." His tweets raised questions about the United States' role in the diplomatic schism.
    "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology," he said. "Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!"
    "They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism and all reference was pointing to Qatar," he added on Twitter. "Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!"
    Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact that the US has a major air base in Qatar.
    After learning more about the tweets, Corker said he wanted to "go back and see specifically what he said."
    "Our position generally as a nation is that these things ebb and flow from find to time, but we've worked with all of the countries," he said.
    Asked to talk about his surprised reaction to hearing about the tweets, Corker said he ends up hearing a lot of news from reporters in the hallways.
    "Unfortunately you guys give me a lot of news that I don't know about until I see you here in the hallway," he said. "I want to see more what was said."
    Corker said he recently visited the base of operations in Qatar and knows "how important that base of operations is to the activities we have going on in the region."
    Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the foreign relations committee, suggested that the President's reaction on Twitter was routine. "Well, you know the President," he said.
    While he stressed the importance of unity in the region, he went on to say that all countries involved -- Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates -- along with Qatar have "done things we don't like."
    "None of these countries have had the record we would like for the United States. But I think unity among these countries is important," Cardin told reporters. "We're still evaluating what it means what it happened with Qatar."
    House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat, also sharply criticized the President's tweets, saying they show Trump to be "uniquely unqualified." Gallego said while Qatar may have some questionable actions, it also is the home of an essential air base in the Middle East.
    "The President illustrated his rank ignorance for all the world to see on Twitter this morning, almost certainly before the few adults in his entourage could speak sense to him," Gallego said in a statement. "This situation is complex, like many diplomatic situations, and showcases how uniquely unqualified Donald Trump is in securing the best interests of the United States when it comes to foreign policy and national security. I empathize with the professionals at the State Department, Defense Department, Central Command, relevant Embassies, and other organizations of the U.S. Government that will have to clean up his mess."