Leading US senators say they are more certain than ever Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after they received a Central Intelligence Agency briefing on the matter.
"I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening", said Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican.
CIA Director Gina Haspel is headed to Capitol Hill to brief Senate leaders on the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Republican senators emerged from a briefing today about journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing and essentially accused the Trump Administration of misleading the U.S. about it - and even covering it up for Saudi Arabia.
Sen. Bob Corker says a jury would find the Saudi crown prince 'in about 30 minutes.'
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham described the Saudi crwon prince as "crazy" and "dangerous" after the briefing.
The sharp response from prominent Senate Republicans will increase the pressure on President Trump, who has defended the crown prince and the US relationship with Saudi Arabia. "It is zero chance - zero - that this happened without the crown prince".
Haspel is also expected to brief leaders and top committee members of the House within the next two weeks on Khashoggi's killing, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters. The bill is pending further action on the Senate floor.
Trump has repeatedly said the evidence doesn't conclusively prove that bin Salman was involved in the assassination and suggested that he believes the prince's denials over the conclusions of the Central Intelligence Agency. Trump has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the USA and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices.
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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.
That reluctance to blame the crown prince has enraged some Republicans.
While acknowledging the country's long relationship with Saudi Arabia, senators have said the murder can't be excused.
"If we abandon Saudi Arabia, it would be a bad mistake", Trump said on November 20, when he released a lengthy statement. "Intelligence is only given to a few people within our system", Paul said Tuesday.
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Still, the agency later agreed to do an additional briefing with a select group of senators.
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said after the briefing that somebody should be punished.
By contrast, US President Donald Trump's position, as summarized in his statement the following Tuesday, has been to take the crown prince at his word. "We're with Saudi Arabia". Speaker Paul Ryan last week said the Yemen resolution "isn't the way to go".
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