Central Intelligence Agency briefing on Khashoggi solidifies senators’ view of Prince Mohammed’s complicity

Central Intelligence Agency briefing on Khashoggi solidifies senators’ view of Prince Mohammed’s complicity

Making some of their strongest accusations so far, both Republicans and Democrats said they still wanted to pass legislation to send a message to Saudi Arabia that the United States condemned the death of Khashoggi.

Rejecting President Donald Trump's efforts to play down the prince's role, Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee said Tuesday that if a jury were to consider a case against Prince Mohammed, he'd be convicted of murder in 30 minutes.

"There's not a smoking gun; there's a smoking saw", said Graham, referring to reports that Khashoggi's body was dismembered by a bone saw after he was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Senator Graham said the Saudi royal was "a wrecking ball", "crazy" and "dangerous".

Democrats provided similar reactions after the briefing, which was provided to leaders of Senate committees that focus on national security.

"It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event", Trump said in a lengthy statement November 20.

Haspel provided the closed briefing just days before the Senate is expected to begin debating a resolution to withdraw US support for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen. Some lawmakers like Graham want a bill with teeth that will punish Saudi Arabia, while others are keen not to antagonize the White House.

Last week's vote set up debate on Senate passage of the Yemen resolution, which could happen next week.

Graham said Tuesday the difference between the Haspel briefing and the one last week was "like darkness and sunshine" in terms of shedding light on MBS's involvement in Khashoggi's killing.




He added that he had a number of good questions he would have asked Haspel if he'd been included in the briefing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis led the earlier briefing and tried to dissuade senators from punishing Saudi Arabia with a resolution to curtail US backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Last week, a combination of Republican and Democratic senators voted, 63-37, to advance a resolution to end USA support for Saudi forces in Yemen.

A senior Turkish official Wednesday said the prosecutor's move "reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won't take formal action against those individuals".

"I think it's wrong for the Central Intelligence Agency to have expressed a conclusion that the crown prince was involved with the killing of Khashoggi, and then withhold that information".

US intelligence officials have concluded that the crown prince must have at least known of the plot, but Trump has been reluctant to pin the blame. As the leader of the free world, we have to accomplish two goals: defend human rights while also attempting to maintain important relationships with key allies that we hope will help us bring stability to critical parts of the world.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who has already established himself as a Trump critic, was even bolder in his criticism.

The Senate could take a vote on proceeding to the Yemen resolution next week.

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