Central Intelligence Agency chief Haspel to brief US Senate leaders on Khashoggi's death

REUTERS  Danny Moloshok

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) claimed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would be convicted of the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in "30 minutes" if there were a jury trial. Other Republicans who last week had opposed a resolution directing the president to halt USA support of the Saudi war in Yemen now suggested they might change their position after hearing what Haspel had to say in the classified briefing.

The South Carolina senator was directly repudiating comments by top Trump administration officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who just last week said there was "no smoking gun" implicating the crown prince.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday complained that the deep state is keeping lawmakers in the dark about Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this year.

Graham says, "there's not a smoking gun".

Democrats provided similar reactions after the briefing, which was given to leaders of Senate committees that focus on national security.

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

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"I'm not going to destroy the world economy and I'm not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia", Trump said at the time.

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.

With many senators furious about being excluded from the briefing, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded Haspel "brief the full Senate without delay".

The CIA concluded with "medium to high confidence" that his killing was "probably ordered" by MBS, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The White House denied having a hand in Ms Haspel's conspicuous absence, and the Central Intelligence Agency said no one had told Haspel not to attend. The vote last week allowed the Senate to debate the measure, which could happen as soon as next week, but senators are still in negotiations on whether to amend it and what it should say.

Graham said Tuesday the difference between the Haspel briefing and the one last week was "like darkness and sunshine" in terms of shedding light on MBS's involvement in Khashoggi's killing. "I have not seen that intelligence nor have I even seen the conclusions". Graham said there is "zero chance" the crown prince wasn't involved in Khashoggi's death.

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Haspel's briefing may have been created to placate some of those senators.

Many Democrats want a "straight up or down vote" on the resolution to end all U.S. support for the Saudi coalition in Yemen, without amendments.

US intelligence officials reportedly have concluded that the crown prince, known informally as "MBS", must have at least known of the plot. "That is an accurate statement, an important statement and it is a statement that we are making publicly today".

But Graham said he would not support the joint resolution that would cut off military support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

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