USA lawmakers on Tuesday heard the CIA's assessment about Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman's role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi first hand from the agency's director, who confirmed and affirmed what they have long suspected.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, spoke to reporters after a closed-door security briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel on the slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and involvement of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, at the Capitol in Washington, today. The Saudi journalist, who was a US resident and a contributor to The Washington Post, was killed in early October by a gang of Saudi agents allegedly directed by the crown prince. Turkey says a hit squad from Riyadh killed and dismembered him. There's a smoking saw- Sen.
"The views that I had before have only solidified", said Menendez, who has called for the U.S. to respond forcefully to Khashoggi's murder and supports legislation to end United States support for a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
Last week, a combination of Republican and Democratic senators voted, 63-37, to advance a resolution to end US support for Saudi forces 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".
Questioned about Haspel's absence from last week's briefing, a Central Intelligence Agency spokesman said that the director had already briefed congressional leaders on Khashoggi and that no one was keeping her away.
After the briefing, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said the U.S. must have strong response to Yemen war and Jamal Khashoggi's killing.
"There are lots of Republicans who are going to try to water this down, but they'll have to find 50 votes, and I'm not sure that they have 50 votes for a substitute". Rand Paul-who asserted that he shouldn't have been excluded from it and that the full Senate should have been briefed rather than strictly a handful of senators.
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The unusual vote came shortly after a briefing by Mr Trump's Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, who urged senators not to do anything to undermine the US-Saudi relationship.
Echoing Trump's public comments on the killing, Pompeo said after last week's briefing with senators that there was "no direct reporting" connecting the crown prince to the murder.
He said he was working with colleagues on how to amend the resolution, and he had not had suggestions from the Trump administration on how it might prefer to proceed.
He added on The Story with Martha MacCallum that "there's a certain price to be paid" if Saudi Arabia wants to remain an ally with the U.S.
"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, of the Senate.
He was not at the Central Intelligence Agency briefing because it was limited to certain foreign policy committees.
The vote on the Yemen resolution could come as early as Thursday and is expected to pass.
The Saudis have charged 11 people but deny that the crown prince was involved. The House hasn't moved on the issue, and Speaker Paul Ryan last week said the Yemen resolution "isn't the way to go".