CIA Director Haspel to Brief Senate Leaders on Khashoggi's Death

U.S. senators more certain than ever Saudi crown prince was behind Khashoggi killing

CIA Director Haspel to Brief Senate Leaders on Khashoggi's Death

Republican senators emerged from a briefing today about journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing and essentially accused the Trump Administration of misleading the U.S. about it - and even covering it up for Saudi Arabia.

Corker said there is now "zero question in my mind that the crown prince directed the murder and he was kept apprised of the situation all the way through". Bob Corker, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, adding that if it were a murder case sent to a jury, "he would be convicted in 30 minutes".

After Tuesday's Haspel briefing, Republican senator Lindsey Graham said: "There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw".

He minced no words afterwards, saying he believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is "a wrecking ball" who is "complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi to the highest level possible".

"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw", Sen.

A Saudi government critic who was living in self-imposed exile in the US, Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

"All evidence points to that all this leads back to the crown prince", said, Alaska Republican Senator Richard Shelby, calling the murder a "reprehensible conduct".

On Tuesday Graham swatted their assessment aside.

Sen. Bob Corker says a jury would find the Saudi crown prince 'in about 30 minutes.'
Sen. Bob Corker says a jury would find the Saudi crown prince 'in about 30 minutes.'

The Senate is reportedly due to vote in the coming days on a measure that would cut off USA military support for Saudi military operations in Yemen.

Saudi authorities have vehemently denied the crown prince was involved. The Senate overwhelmingly voted last week to move forward on a resolution curtailing US backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Trump said Saudi Arabia had pledged to "spend and invest $450 billion in the United States", much of it "on the purchase of military equipment".

"I can not support arms sales to Saudi Arabia as long as he's in charge of this country", Graham said of the crown prince.

That reluctance to blame the crown prince has enraged some Republicans.

Haspel met with a small group of senators, including the chairmen and top Democrats on the key national security committees, after senators in both parties complained that she didn't attend a briefing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis last week. He has consistently reminded the press that the crown prince told him he had nothing to do with Khashoggi's disappearance.

"Was there a phone conversation between the crown prince and the killers?" said Paul, about what he would have asked the Central Intelligence Agency director had he been allowed into the briefing. Graham and Paul have also said they think Congress should block a pending arms deal with the kingdom. He said it seemed as though the White House's response to the Khashoggi killing was that "you can kill a journalist". "We have to have a relationship with these countries".

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