Leading US senators say they are more certain than ever Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after they received a Central Intelligence Agency briefing on the matter.
Corker said there is now "zero question in my mind that the crown prince directed the murder and he was kept apprised of the situation all the way through".
Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The CIA has not commented publicly on its assessment of the Khashoggi killing, and Haspel spoke to just a small number of Senate leaders in a closed session.
Sen. Bob Corker says a jury would find the Saudi crown prince 'in about 30 minutes.'
Lindsey Graham, who says he will push the Senate to vote on a resolution that finds the crown prince complicit in the murder, said one would have to "be willfully blind" not to come to the conclusion that Khashoggi's death was orchestrated and organized by people under the crown prince.
Khashoggi, who was living near Washington and contributing to The Washington Post, was killed on October 2 when he went into the consulate for paperwork related to his planned marriage. "There's not a smoking gun but a smoking saw", Graham added. He said it seemed as though the White House's response to the Khashoggi killing was that "you can kill a journalist".
The Republican lawmaker then insisted that the Saudis will be held "accountable, including the crown prince, for whatever action he may have been involved with" - just before implying that the USA must remain closely allied withSaudis because of the their role in the Yemen civil war.
President Donald Trump has declined to blame Saudi Arabia--or the Crown Prince--specifically.
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"I went into the briefing believing it was virtually impossible for an operation like this to be carried out without the crown prince's knowledge", Graham told reporters.
"If he was in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes, guilty", Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told reporters after the briefing.
In an interview with CNN last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said they had no direct evidence to prove Prince Mohammed was behind the murder. Trump said in a statement on November 20. 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.
Still, the agency later agreed to do an additional briefing with a select group of senators.
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"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.
"We're not quite there yet", Corker said ahead of the briefing. Graham has also pushed for the Magnitsky Act sanctions issued against the 15 assassins to be extended to the crown prince as well.
The Senate could take a vote on proceeding to the Yemen resolution next week. "We're staying with Saudi Arabia".
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