Senators say Saudi crown prince was complicit in journalist's murder

Senators say Saudi crown prince was complicit in journalist's murder

CIA Director Gina Haspel held a closed-door briefing today in Washington, DC, addressing several senators on the killing of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. 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.

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote for the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Turkey says a hit squad from Riyadh killed and dismembered him.

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".

Tuesday's briefing on Khashoggi's killing was limited to a small group of lawmakers, including those of the Senate's Armed Services Committee, Intelligence Committee, and Foreign Relations Committee.

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. Both officials took the position that there was not enough evidence to tie the killing to the crown prince.

With many senators furious about being excluded from the briefing, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded Haspel "brief the full Senate without delay".

"I think they're making a wrong calculation", New Jersey Democratic Sen.

The decision to limit Haspel's briefing to fewer than a dozen senators has angered others, like Sen.

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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.

Last week, the administration sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis to brief the Senate, but Graham and other senators expressed outrage that they were not hearing directly from Haspel, as the CIA's assessment had been liberally leaked to the media.

In a column for the Wall Street Journal today, Graham wrote that the killing and other moves by the Saudi regime showed "astounding arrogance entitlement" and disregard for worldwide norms.

The Trump administration has so far pledged to remain a steadfast supporter of the Saudi government, including MBS, the country's de facto leader, despite the murder of Khashoggi.

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. He said he would "question somebody's judgment if they couldn't figure this out".

Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said after the briefing that somebody should be punished. Bob Menendez said Tuesday on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront".

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

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