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

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

The CIA has assessed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government.

"You have to be wilfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organised by people under the command of MbS", Republican senator Lindsey Graham told reporters, referring to the Crown Prince by his initials.

It said the 81-year-old president, whose health has been fragile since he suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public, was "in bed with a heavy flu". "There's a smoking saw", Graham said.

The senator also says he can not support arms sales to Saudi Arabia so long as the crown prince is in charge. Still, that didn't stop Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) from defending President Donald Trump's apparent unwillingness to hold Mohammed responsible.

Outspoken Senator Rand Paul warned America of the "growing Deep State" Tuesday; saying he was "blocked" from a Central Intelligence Agency briefing regarding the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was born in Saudi Arabia, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October. The Trump administration has issued sanctions against the individuals who carried out the crime, but Trump himself issued a strong, yet befuddling, statement of support for the kingdom, citing economic benefits for the U.S. In that statement, Trump vacillated on bin Salman's involvement: "maybe he did, maybe he didn't" know about the murder scheme.

Graham also said that he would not support the current USA military efforts to support Saudi Arabia in its war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

"It is zero chance, zero, that this happened in such an organized fashion without the crown prince", he told reporters Tuesday.

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.'

Trump has equivocated over who is to blame for the killing, frustrating senators who are now looking for ways to punish the longtime Middle East ally.

The CIA director met with a small group of senators, including the chairmen and ranking senators on the key national security committees.

Haspel's absence from that briefing angered senators.

"I think Prince Mohammed gave the order, or at least he knew about it, to butcher Khashoggi".

Asked if he would be convicted of murder, Senator Corker replied: "Yes".

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

Other senators, including Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) said the briefing confirmed their suspicions about bin Salman's involvement and agreed the USA must respond. Graham invoked the memory of the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), saying that if he were alive "I believe he would be standing with me today, leading the charge to come down like a ton of bricks" on bin Salman for the threat he's posed to the U.S. -Saudi relationship and actions which have "destabilized the region".

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