Republican senators briefed by Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi Tuesday (Dec. 4) had an immediate reaction: Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman is guilty.
Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who has been a loyal supporter of Donald Trump in recent months, told reporters on Capitol Hill there’s no “smoking gun,” in the case, but a “smoking saw,” a reference to the bone saw that the crown prince’s underlings reportedly brought with them into the Istanbul embassy where Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2.
Bob Corker, the retiring Tennessee Republican, said a jury would find the crown prince guilty in minutes:
And Richard Shelby, the Republican from Alabama, said “all evidence points to that all this leads back to the crown prince.” Haspel briefed senators heading committees related to national security; late last month she briefed intelligence committees in the House and Senate about Khashoggi’s death.
Turkish authorities and the CIA believe the crown prince, known as MBS, ordered and oversaw Khashoggi’s killing by a group of henchmen. The White House, Donald Trump, and State secretary Mike Pompeo have said they’re not convinced of the crown prince’s guilt, and stressed the importance of keeping US-Saudi ties strong. Khashoggi, a US resident and father of grown American children, was murdered after traveling to the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, and his body dismembered, Turkish officials say.
On Nov. 28, the Senate voted to advance a bill that would require the US military to end its support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t brought the bill to a full vote yet. “A complete fracture with Saudi Arabia in my view is not in our best interest long term,” McConnell said Dec. 3 at a public event.