ibusinesslines.com December 10, 2018

CIA Director to Brief Lawmakers on Saudi Journalist's Murder

05 December 2018, 06:40 | Erica Roy

REUTERS Danny Moloshok

REUTERS  Danny Moloshok

Leading US senators say they are more certain than ever Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after they received a Central Intelligence Agency briefing on the matter.

The South Carolina senator was directly repudiating comments by top Trump administration officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who just last week said there was "no smoking gun" implicating the crown prince. Saudi Arabia, for its part, had initially denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance but claimed via state media in October that Khashoggi had been strangled in a fistfight with 15 men sent to confront him at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Following the briefing by Gina Haspel Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called on President Trump to take a tougher stance with Riyadh.

While Saudi Arabia and the crown prince "are two different entities", Graham said the relationship between Washington and Riyahd was imperiled due to MBS's control of the Saudi government.

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. The Senate overwhelmingly voted last week to move forward on a resolution curtailing US backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

"I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince directed the murder and was kept apprised of the situation all the way through".

Senators including Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., still want Haspel to brief the entire Senate on the matter.

"No response is certainly not appropriate", McConnell said at a Wall Street Journal event.

"I think it would have been good to have the full Senate", said Sen.

Some senators have complained about the way the briefing was handled today, including Kentucky Sen.

Under mounting pressure from lawmakers who wanted action against Riyadh, Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told senators where they said there was no direct evidence linking the crown prince to the murder.

Graham, a confidant of Trump, had said he would refuse to support "any key vote" until Haspel spoke to lawmakers.

The Trump administration has argued there is no "smoking gun" tying the prince to the murder, but Corker said Haspel presented the senators with information they hadn't heard before.

"We are a coequal branch of government exercising leadership to safeguard the country's long-term interests, values and reputation", wrote Graham, a frequent ally of the president.

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.

"I would really question someone's judgment if they couldn't figure this out", Graham continued.

They overwhelmingly approved the resolution, 63-37, on an unexpectedly wide bipartisan vote. The Saudi public prosecutor has indicted and charged dozens of Saudi citizens, including several top advisers to the crown prince, in the affair.

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