Lawmakers challenge Trump official on Saudi arms sale

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are grilling State Department officials over President Donald Trump’s move to sell arms to Saudi Arabia without congressional review.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel of New York decried the move as “a slap in the face” to Congress. The Democrat accused the Trump administration of using threats from Iran as a “convenient excuse” to push through the sale.

State Department official R. Clark Cooper defended the sale as necessary to protect U.S. interests. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month cited threats from Iran to approve the $8.1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, called the move “unfortunate.” He warned, “we certainly hope this is a one-time exception.”

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