GOP senators condemn Saudi crown prince for ordering Khashoggi killing

GOP senators condemn Saudi crown prince for ordering Khashoggi killing

GOP senators condemn Saudi crown prince for ordering Khashoggi killing

The move comes a day after senior US senators said they were more certain than ever that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the killing, citing a Central Intelligence Agency briefing.

After the hour-long briefing by Central Intelligence Agency direcotr Gina Haspel, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said he had "zero question in my mind" that Prince Mohammed directed the killing.

"It'll have teeth", said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, who added that the senators are trying to piece together various proposals into one plan to achieve bipartisan consensus.

Graham rejected their assessment outright, saying "you have to be willfully blind" not to conclude that the murder was orchestrated by people under Prince Mohammed's command.

"There's a smoking saw", Graham said, referring to reports from the Turkish government that said Saudi agents used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi after he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Saudi Arabia has sought to distance Prince Mohammed from the murder and has received support from the administration of US President Donald Trump, which has downplayed possible links between the crown prince and what happened to Khashoggi.

Trump has made a concerted decision to avoid rebuking Saudi Arabia, claiming the kingdom's role in affecting global oil prices and its arms deals with the United States are more important to the national interest. Indeed, after Haspel's briefing, the groundswell of certainty and disgust will likely complicate the Trump administration's efforts to protect the prince and its relationship with Saudi Arabia, even as lawmakers have yet to coalesce around a legislative response, CNN reported.

Senators put themselves in direct opposition to the White House, making clear that the evidence they heard had convinced them beyond the shadow of a doubt.

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The Kentucky lawmaker was excluded from a group on Tuesday that met with CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Haspel provided the closed briefing just days before the Senate is expected to begin debating a resolution to withdraw US support for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen. Initially, Saudi authorities had said Khashoggi, who had written articles critical of the crown prince's policies, had disappeared, after safely leaving the consulate.

A senior Turkish official said Wednesday that the prosecutor´s move "reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won´t take formal action against those individuals".

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

"There are lots of Republicans who are going to try to water this down, but they'll have to find 50 votes, and I'm not sure that they have 50 votes for a substitute".

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

Haspel's briefing may have been created to placate some of those senators. Trump said. "That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi".

Senator Corker said it would be "difficult" to come up with legislation that could pass the Senate. I have no question whatsoever now: "The crown prince directed the murder and was kept apprised of the situation all the way through".

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