After a briefing from Gina Haspel, the director of the CIA, several Republican senators now say there is “zero question” that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered the murder of American-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, ABC reports.
“I have zero questions in my mind that the Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening. Planned it in advance. If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty,” said Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee.
As for Trump and the White House’s claim that there is no direct evidence linking the Saudi royal family to the killing, Corker added that he feels the claim is “unacceptable.”
A second Republican lawmaker, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, commented that the evidence supposedly linking the Saudi crown prince to Khashoggi’s murder represents a “smoking saw” and not just a proverbial smoking gun.
“You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi.”
It was just a week ago that Trump released a statement on the official White House website, re-affirming the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, a country which supplies the U.S. with more oil than any other. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have a long history of exchanging money, weapons, and oil, and the U.S. reportedly has a planned arms sale with the country that will bring in millions of dollars.
Graham, however, says he can no longer support this arms sale.
Breaking News: Senators said a closed CIA briefing solidified their belief that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered Jamal Khashoggi's death https://t.co/njPtf40AUo— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 4, 2018
Meanwhile, many senators are outraged about the briefing for a wholly different reason. Only a select few senators were present at the closed-door briefing, leaving others stewing.
“We’re reading about it in the media,” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul complained, in a series of Twitter posts.
“I think it’s wrong for the CIA to have expressed a conclusion that the Crown Prince was involved with the killing of Khashoggi and then withhold that information.
“Why shouldn’t every senator know what is going on? The deep state wants to keep everyone in the dark. This is just ridiculous!”
Only eight Senators were present at the briefing with the CIA director. Many senators, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, say that Haspel should testify before the full Senate.
“Every Senator should hear what I heard this afternoon. CIA Director Haspel must brief the full Senate immediately,” said Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, according to CNN.
Jamal Khashoggi was born in Saudi Arabia and was living in the U.S. after being warned about his writing. Khashoggi was an advocate of a free media, which Saudi Arabia does not have, and no big fan of the ruling royal Saudi family. He was living in America in self-imposed exile in an attempt to keep himself safe.
Those efforts did not work, despite the fact that everyone in America is guaranteed the right to free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Khashoggi traveled to Turkey to visit the Saudi Arabia consulate, something he had to do in order to obtain paperwork so he could marry his girlfriend.
After walking into the government building on October 2, Jamal Khashoggi was never seen alive again. Following a lengthy and extensive investigation, Turkish officials concluded that Khashoggi, who wrote for the Washington Post, was tortured and murdered by a Saudi “hit squad” comprised of many people close to the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has said that perhaps Mohammed bin Salman didn’t order the murder and that U.S.-Saudi relations will continue as they always have.