Central Intelligence Agency chief Haspel to brief Senate on Khashoggi killing

05 December, 2018, 03:30 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • U.S. senators more certain than ever Saudi crown prince was behind Khashoggi killing

Numerous lawmakers to meet with Haspel already seemingly made up their minds that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Khashoggi's murder.

"There's not a smoking gun - there's a smoking saw", Republican Sen. Still, that didn't stop Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) from defending President Donald Trump's apparent unwillingness to hold Mohammed responsible.

"I think the behaviour before the Khashoggi murder was beyond disturbing and I can not see him being a reliable partner to the United States".

Graham made the unambiguous rebuke following a classified briefing on the murder with CIA Director Gina Haspel, who is one of the only US officials who listened to the audio recording of Khashoggi's death.

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.'

There was "zero question" that the young prince was behind the assassination, according to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee.

Pompeo and Mattis tried to dissuade senators from punishing Saudi Arabia with the resolution, saying US involvement in the Yemen conflict is central to the Trump administration's broader goal of containing Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Last week, 14 of Mr Trump's fellow Republicans, who hold a slim majority in the Senate and rarely break from the President, defied his wishes and voted with Democrats to advance a measure that would end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen. Senators have moved to punish Saudi Arabia by advancing legislation to curtail USA backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Other senators emerging from a briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel also blame the Saudi de facto ruler for the murder despite Trump's unwavering support for the prince in the wake of his arms deal with Riyadh.

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The Kentucky lawmaker was excluded from a group on Tuesday that met with CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Senators from both parties were angry last week that Haspel didn't attend a closed-door session with top administration officials about Khashoggi's killing and the USA response, which many senators have said is lacking.

"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw", Graham added, taking a shot at Defense Secretary James Mattis, who told senators last week that there was "no smoking gun" linking bin Salman to the killing.

"And yet we have to have a relationship with these individuals or with these countries". Ahead of this closed-door meeting, Louisiana Republican Kennedy told Fox News that he believed "Prince Mohammed gave the order, or at least he knew about it, to butcher Khashoggi".

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"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". Asked if he would be convicted of murder, the senator then answered: "Yes".

While Senate passage of a resolution would send a strong message to Saudi Arabia, it's unlikely it would become law before the end of the year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch ally of Trump, supports a Senate rebuke of the Saudi government, despite the Trump administration's reluctance to do it.

Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also briefly spoke to reporters after the meeting. The bill is pending further action on the Senate floor.

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