CIA Director Haspel to Brief Senate Leaders on Khashoggi's Death

CIA Director Gina Haspel departs the Capitol Rotunda after visiting the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state in Washington

CIA Director Gina Haspel departs the Capitol Rotunda after visiting the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state in Washington

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.

Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika called off a meeting with visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday because of ill health, the national news agency APS reported. The journalist, who had lived for a time in the USA and wrote for The Washington Post, had been critical of the Saudi regime. Turkey says a hit squad from Riyadh killed and dismembered him.

Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who said he is highly confident that the prince is responsible for the murder.

"I think the reason (Mattis and Pompeo) don't draw the conclusion that he's complicit is because the administration doesn't want to go down that road, not because there's not evidence to suggest he's complicit", Graham said. "It is zero chance - zero - that this happened without the crown prince... you have to be willfully blind" to believe he wasn't involved, Graham said. Pompeo said there was "no direct reporting" connecting the crown prince to the murder, and Mattis said there was "no smoking gun" making the connection.

Paul said if he was allowed into the secure room for the briefing, he'd ask Haspel - a Kentucky native - several other questions, including whether there were text messages sent from the killers to the crown prince's office.

Senator Graham is also introducing a separate resolution to officially blame the Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi's death. If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. "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.

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They say Gina Haspel is to talk to Senate leaders leaders on Tuesday. "I would imagine if they were in a Democratic administration, I would be all over them for being in the pocket of Saudi Arabia, but since I have such respect for them, I'm going to assume that they're being good soldiers".

Menendez, in his CNN interview, said Trump, Pompeo and Mattis were "all toeing the same line" and wrongly assuming it was in the strategic benefit of the United States - including on Iran and global oil prices - to avoid blaming the Saudi crown prince. The bill is pending further action on the Senate floor.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a critic of Saudi Arabia, said that excluding some lawmakers is "the very definition of the deep state" and that he suspected that the Trump administration is attempting to get some lawmakers to switch their votes on the resolution by giving them information. He said finding a compromise will be hard because some lawmakers don't want to tie Yemen to the Khashoggi killing.

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

"Now, the question is, how do you separate the Saudi crown prince and his group from the nation itself", he said.

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