Rep. Argues For Maintaining Saudi Ties: 'Journalists Disappear All Over The Country'

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

Republican senators briefed Tuesday by CIA Director Gina Haspel on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi immediately turned up the heat on Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying they are convinced more than ever that the prince was involved in the activist's death.

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.

Khashoggi's murder in October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has opened a rift between the Trump administration and some of its most consistent supporters in Congress - including Sen.

Haspel delivered a closed-door briefing to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Appropriations committees on the murder of Khashoggi on Tuesday morning. Asked by a reporter if it would be a murder conviction, Corker replied "yes".

The senator said there was indeed a "smoking saw" - a reference to the reported bonesaw that was brought to dismember Khashoggi - and that Pompeo was being a "good soldier" by toeing the Administration's line.

Like a previous stop in Tunis, the crown prince's visit has drawn criticism from political and academic circles in Algeria over the Saudi-led war in Yemen and Washington Post columnist Khashoggi's grisly murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Graham says, "there's not a smoking gun".

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.'

"No response is certainly not appropriate", McConnell said at a Wall Street Journal event. The Senate voted last week to debate the USA assistance, and additional Senate action is expected in the coming days.

Trump has repeatedly cast doubts over the U.S. intelligence agency's assessment, however, while Saudi officials have repeatedly denied that the crown prince had any knowledge of Khashoggi's murder or its subsequent cover-up.

"If the crown prince went in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis led the earlier briefing and tried to dissuade senators from punishing Saudi Arabia with a resolution to curtail USA backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

"To let it stand, in essence allows somebody like MBS to continue with immunity which is inappropriate", Corker said, adding that the Trump administration "puts Congress in a place where now we feel like we need to speak out, that this can not stand". In a column for the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Graham wrote that the killing and other moves by the Saudi regime showed "astounding arrogance entitlement" and disregard for global norms.

Senators are "trying to figure out an amendment that a larger group of people could get behind that addresses this issue without undermining our national interests", Corker said. He said, while also noting, "We're with Saudi Arabia". "It is zero chance - zero - that this happened without the crown prince". "Of course it does, and yet we have to have a relationship with these individuals- or with these countries". "We're staying with Saudi Arabia".

Even if the Yemen resolution passes the Senate, it appears unlikely to advance in the House.

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