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CIA director briefs senators on journalist Khashoggi's death

CIA director briefs senators on journalist Khashoggi's death

Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that a briefing with Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel confirmed his initial belief that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered at the direction of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

"There's not a smoking gun; there's a smoking saw", said Graham, referring to reports that Khashoggi's body was dismembered by a bone saw after he was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

"If MBS were in front of a jury he'd be convicted in less than 30 minutes".

"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw", South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said, referencing Trump administration comments that there is no "smoking gun" showing bi Salman ordered the killing.

Trump has repeatedly cast doubts over the USA intelligence agency's assessment, however, while Saudi officials have repeatedly denied that the crown prince had any knowledge of Khashoggi's murder or its subsequent cover-up.

The senators said Haspel's briefing contradicted information from Trump, as well as Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Graham was expected to attend Tuesday's meeting, along with the top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services, Foreign Relations and intelligence panels and a few others.

Prince Mohammed, who has been making his first foreign tour since the October 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, held talks instead with Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, Algeria's presidency said.

Sen. Bob Corker says a jury would find the Saudi crown prince 'in about 30 minutes.'
Sen. Bob Corker says a jury would find the Saudi crown prince 'in about 30 minutes.'

Last week's vote set up debate on Senate passage of the Yemen resolution, which could happen next week.

Graham called the evidence overwhelming, and said those who deny the crown prince's involvement - including President Trump - are ignoring the evidence.

He once again called bin Salman "crazy" and questioned whether the USA can partner with Saudi Arabia if he is in charge. A deep state involves what some believe is an entrenched bureaucracy that runs the government regardless of who is president.

"If they were in a Democratic administration", Graham said of Pompeo and Mattis, "I would be all over them for being in the pocket of Saudi Arabia". The kingdom implicated some of the crown prince's associates in the murder and Saudi authorities later detained several high-ranking officials. He has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the USA and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices.

USA 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.

He added: "We're looking for an appropriate response that doesn't completely fracture the relationship".

Chase Thomas, executive director of the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah, said Stewart was continuing to blindly defend Trump at all costs. He said he had been briefed about the highly indicting Central Intelligence Agency investigation comprising audio evidence but would not to listen to the audio because "it's a suffering tape, it's a awful tape". The House hasn't moved on the issue, and Speaker Paul Ryan last week said the Yemen resolution "isn't the way to go".