A secret briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel seems to have solidified the belief of several senators that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is personally responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Haspel appeared on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to brief a dozen or so senators on intelligence the CIA had about Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey two months ago.
“I have zero question in my mind that the Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening. Planned it in advance. If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), who currently chairs the Foreign Relations committee, said after the briefing.
Sen. Lindsey Graham says Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is a “wrecking ball” and is “complicit in the murder” of Khashoggi to the “highest level possible.”
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 4, 2018
“It’s not a smoking gun, it’s a smoking saw,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), referring to media reports that Khashoggi was dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate.
“It is zero chance, zero, that this happened in such an organized fashion without the [Saudi] crown prince,” Graham added.
The former wingman of the hawkish Sen. John McCain, who has been on board with much of President Donald Trump’s agenda since McCain’s death in August, Graham has sided with critics of Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy over the Khashoggi incident.
“If John McCain were alive I believe he would be standing with me today, leading the charge to come down like a ton of bricks on the crown prince for what he’s done to the relationship, the way he’s destabilized the region,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
The fear that the Saudis will stop cooperating with the U.S. on terrorism or Iran isn’t rational. Those threats pose as much of a danger to the Saudis as they do to America. https://t.co/7Vi3a4AzHF via @WSJopinion
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 4, 2018
Graham also authored an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal earlier in the day, which argued that bin Salman is a “wrecking ball to US-Saudi relations” whose behavior helps only Iran.
The decision to limit Haspel’s briefing to fewer than a dozen senators has angered others, like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who commandeered a press conference setup during the briefing to denounce the “deep state” wanting to keep everyone in the dark.
Do you want to know what the deep state is? The CIA Director is coming to the US Senate and only briefing a select few members of the Senate. Why shouldn’t every senator know what is going on? The deep state wants to keep everyone in the dark. This is just ridiculous!
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 4, 2018
Graham later agreed with the sentiment, tweeting, “On this, I stand with Rand!”
Haspel’s briefing was limited to the chairs and ranking members of the Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees, as well as the Appropriation subcommittee, and majority and minority leaders. It was not clear why.
“I think it would have been good to have the full Senate,” said Sen. Corker. Asked why the briefing was limited, he said, “I don’t know.”
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