A ‘Smoking Saw’ links Saudi Prince to Khashoggi’s murder, says US Senator

REUTERS  Danny Moloshok

The accusations by Graham and other lawmakers were striking in that they followed an unusual briefing from CIA Director Gina Haspel, who had come to lay out the agency's assessment that Mohammed likely ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who was a Washington Post contributing columnist.

"I think the secretary of defense and secretary of state are in a bad spot because the president has given this bear hug to MBS and to the entire Saudi regime so they are bound to carry out his freakish policy", Murphy said, using an acronym for the crown prince.

So far, President Trump has given the Saudi crown prince the benefit of the doubt about his role in the incident.

"If we abandon Saudi Arabia, it would be a awful mistake", Trump said on November 20, when he released a lengthy statement.

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.

"If our government knows that Saudi leaders were involved in the murder of a USA resident, why shouldn't the public know this?" he said. "I can foresee a circumstance where a bunch of amendments might be voted down and at some point, [Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's] got to move to a vote on the underlying resolution", Murphy said. Graham is quick to defend Pompeo and Mattis, calling them "good soldiers" in his statement, but he throws Trump under the bus.

'By extraditing all suspects to Turkey, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, the Saudi authorities could address those concerns'.

"There's not a smoking gun but a smoking saw", Graham added.

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. "There's a smoking saw", Graham said.




Bob Corker said he had "zero question in my mind" it was Prince Salman, and Lindsey Graham said the "crazy" crown prince was "complicit" to the "highest level possible".

Republican senators emerged from a briefing today about journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing and essentially accused the Trump Administration of misleading the United States about it - and even covering it up for Saudi Arabia.

The war is widely seen as a stalemate and Yemen, an impoverished country even in times of peace, is suffering the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Lawmakers are likely to use the debate to call for Saudi Arabia to be held accountable for its behavior and reject the Trump administration's policy of keeping close ties with the kingdom, counting on its leaders to keep oil prices down as he ramps up sanctions on the kingdom's rival, Iran.

Senators in the coming week are likely to consider a resolution that would restrict US support for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen, which has contributed to a humanitarian disaster.

United States intelligence community assessments and experts said it's unlikely the killing could have happened without the crown prince's knowledge.

Corker is confident that the crown prince is culpable in the murder.

"While I will not discuss the content of the Haspel briefing, it reinforced the need for a strong response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi", the New York Democrat said.

Trump has said it's unknowable whether the Crown Prince was actually behind it - despite the Central Intelligence Agency concluding this with "high confidence" - while Pompeo said last week that there was no "direct reporting" implicating him.

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