CIA Director to Brief Lawmakers on Saudi Journalist's Murder

CIA Director to Brief Lawmakers on Saudi Journalist's Murder

Arrest warrants have been issued by Istanbul's chief prosecutor against two Saudi men who worked as high level advisers to Saudi Arabia's leader, Mohammed bin Salman, as Turkey's investigation into the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi widens.

Riyadh has continued to distance the prince from the murder and has been backed by Donald Trump's administration, which downplayed Prince Salman's possible connections to the killing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis led the earlier briefing and tried to dissuade senators from punishing Saudi Arabia with a resolution to curtail USA backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

"Maybe he did and maybe he didn't", Trump said last month about whether the crown prince had known about the murder. "You have to balance all of those considerations as we move forward on this".

"If someone is saying that Secretary Mattis or Secretary Pompeo were dishonest, they just don't know those individuals", Stewart said.

Khashoggi's killing has put mounting pressure on Riyadh and Prince Mohammed, who Turkish officials - and reportedly the Central Intelligence Agency - have concluded was behind the critic's death.

In one image shared by state news agency Anadolu, two-time Oscar victor Penn was seen outside the mission where the Washington Post contributor was strangled before he was cut up into pieces by a 15-man Saudi team especially sent to Istanbul for the task.

In the Khasoggi case, Trump has repeatedly avoided rebuking Saudi Arabia, pointing to the economic benefits of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Riyadh's role in preventing a spike in oil prices.

The administration last week sent Mattis and Pompeo to the Capitol, but senators emerged angrier than before, in part because Haspel didn't participate.

The CIA had no immediate comment. "If he was in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes: guilty".

Graham said after the briefing that he would push for a nonbinding resolution that the crown prince was "complicit" in Khashoggi's murder.

On 20 November he said: "It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event - maybe he did and maybe he didn't". He has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the US and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices.

The war is widely seen as a stalemate and Yemen, an impoverished country even in times of peace, is suffering the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) resolution to end USA military support for the Saudi kingdom's assault on Yemen.

Haspel's briefing was limited to the chairs and ranking members of the Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees, as well as the Appropriation subcommittee, and majority and minority leaders.

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

Trump has said it's unknowable whether the Crown Prince was actually behind it - despite the Central Intelligence Agency concluding this with "high confidence" - while Pompeo said last week that there was no "direct reporting" implicating him.

It remains unclear whether Turkish prosecutors have found any new evidence that led them to believe that Asiri and al-Qahtani were responsible for the murder.

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