Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

'Not a Smoking Gun...A Smoking Saw': Senators Convinced on Khashoggi Killing

'Not a Smoking Gun...A Smoking Saw': Senators Convinced on Khashoggi Killing

"There is not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw", Graham, R-South Carolina, told reporters after emerging from a Capitol Hill briefing with Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel.

Republican Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) downplayed Saudi Arabia's alleged killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi during an appearance on CNN today, despite top Senate Republicans declaring they have no doubt Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the murder.

President Donald Trump has declined to blame Saudi Arabia--or the Crown Prince--specifically.

The congressman stressed that it was important to hold Saudi Arabia and Mohammad bin Salman accountable, but added that maintaining a working relationship with the Gulf nation could be in the best interests of the country. "You have to balance all of those considerations as we move forward on this".

Turkish officials told Reuters that former Mohammed bin Salman aide Saud al-Qahtani and former deputy intelligence chief General Ahmed al-Asiri are suspected of helping to orchestrate the October 2 killing.

"Maybe he did and maybe he didn't", Trump said, but noted the strong us interest in keeping Saudi Arabia as an ally and moving forward with a high-figure weapons deal that was helping American workers.

Last week, Canada also slapped 17 sanctions on Saudis who were involved in the murder.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of IL said every senator "should hear what I heard this afternoon". Haspel, who has reportedly heard an audio recording of the murder, has briefed President Trump about it last month.

"Let me just put it this way: I think if he was in front of a jury, he would have a unanimous verdict in about 30 minutes".

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.

USA intelligence officials have concluded that the crown prince must have at least known of the plot, but Trump has been reluctant to pin the blame.

There are several proposals in the works, including freezes on all USA arms sales to Riyadh and tightening sanctions on those involved in Khashoggi's murder.

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the crown prince was "complicit in the murder" of Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a USA resident who wrote for the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

Two weeks ago the USA president said: "It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event - maybe he did and maybe he didn't!"

When asked whether there was a difference in the message about Mohammed's culpability, Corker compared it to the "difference between darkness and sunshine".

"Well I think they're frankly carrying out the policy of the administration", he said.

Graham also said that he would not support the current US military efforts to support Saudi Arabia in its war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The CIA director is set to meet Republican and Democratic Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking senators on the key national security committees.

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