Menendez after CIA's Khashoggi briefing: Trump, Mattis, Pompeo making 'wrong calculation'

US senators convinced of Saudi crown prince’s role in Khashoggi murder

Senators vowed yesterday to punish Saudi Arabia with further sanctions after a private briefing from the Central Intelligence Agency director convinced them that the country's crown prince had ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Top Republicans in the United States are attacking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for ordering the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in October.

Graham's rage about the crown prince's involvement was shared by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tennessee.

Corker added, "And if he (MBS) were in front of a jury, he would be convicted of murder in about 30 minutes".

After yesterday's briefing from Gina Haspel, the Central Intelligence Agency director, Lindsey Graham, a Republican ally of Mr Trump, said: "There's not a smoking gun".

It said the 81-year-old president, whose health has been fragile since he suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in public, was "in bed with a heavy flu".

In his bid to pressure the Trump administration to condemn the Crown Prince, Senator Graham said there may not be a "smoking gun", but that there was a "smoking saw", a reference to a bone saw that investigators said was used to cut up Khashoggi's body.

Tuesday's briefing comes as the Senate weighs punishing the longtime Middle East ally over the killing.

"You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under command of MBS, and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi". "As to Pompeo and Mattis, I have great respect for them". On 20 November he said: "It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event - maybe he did and maybe he didn't". 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.

He said he was working with colleagues on how to amend the resolution, and he had not had suggestions from the Trump administration on how it might prefer to proceed.

Senators including Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., still want Haspel to brief the entire Senate on the matter.

"CIA Director Haspel should brief the full Senate without delay".

US intelligence officials reportedly have concluded that the crown prince, known informally as "MBS", must have at least known of the plot. Legislators have vowed to punish Saudi Arabia, proposing a measure which would remove US support for the Saudis in the civil war in Yemen.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Republican Senator Rand Paul voiced his frustration that "most rank-and-file senators and congressmen" were not invited to the meeting with Haspel. Graham invoked the memory of the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), saying that if he were alive "I believe he would be standing with me today, leading the charge to come down like a ton of bricks" on bin Salman for the threat he's posed to the U.S. -Saudi relationship and actions which have "destabilized the region". He said he would "question somebody's judgment if they couldn't figure this out". "We're with Saudi Arabia".



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