Central Intelligence Agency briefing on Khashoggi solidifies senators’ view of Prince Mohammed’s complicity


There remained no question among most senators on Tuesday after the closed-door briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel that Mohammed was directly connected to the killing. Sen.

Breaking with President Donald Trump, U.S. senators leaving a briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel on December 4 said they are even more convinced that Prince Mohammed was involved in Khashoggi's death.

"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 added.

Despite the CIA's assessment, President Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed it, calling it premature.

The briefing will take place after the Central Intelligence Agency was excluded last week when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke with senators about the journalist's killing. The move would punish both the president and the Crown Prince for their roles in killing or covering up the journalist's murder. Graham is quick to defend Pompeo and Mattis, calling them "good soldiers" in his statement, but he throws Trump under the bus.

"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw", Graham told reporters."You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS (Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman)".

The 58-year-old Hollywood actor could be seen working with a film crew of at least ten people outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday. Obviously that's a huge sign of progress, but an even more important takeaway is the fact that these senators say they feel purposefully mislead by a Republican administration, and have made a vote against its interests.

Durbin joined Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in calling for a full-Senate briefing from Haspel.

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"If MBS were in front of a jury, he'd be convicted in less than 30 minutes", Corker said, using the prince's initials.

US intelligence officials have concluded that the crown prince must have at least known of the plot, but Trump has been reluctant to pin the blame.

Lindsey Graham, who attended the briefing, underscore the divide between some GOP senators and the Trump Administration on the murder of Khashoggi-who was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2.

There are several proposals in the works, including freezes on all US arms sales to Riyadh and tightening sanctions on those involved in Khashoggi's murder. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) resolution to end US military support for the Saudi kingdom's assault on Yemen.

Following the sanctions, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the case of Khashoggi's murder is still not closed.

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. Corker said it's going to be hard to determine what measure the Senate can pass with overwhelming support.

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

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.