Two US Republican senators have emerged from a meeting with CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday saying it's clearer than ever that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi could not have happened without the knowledge of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi was killed - and then dismembered by a bone saw - in October at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul by a hit squad sent by bin Salman, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded. If he was in front of a jury he would have a unanimous verdict in 30 minutes.
He argued that Pompeo and Mattis needed to be asked specifically if they disagreed with the CIA's conclusion there was "no smoking gun" to link the crown prince to the murder, as Mattis has claimed.
Rep. Chris Stewart defended President Donald Trump's dismissal of Central Intelligence Agency findings that Saudi Arabia's crown prince was complicit in the killing of a USA -based journalist, noting that America needs relationships with some countries it doesn't always agree with.
"Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally", Graham tweeted after Tuesday's briefing. Graham said "you have to be willfully blind" not to conclude that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the crown prince's command.
"To let it stand, in essence allows somebody like MBS to continue with immunity which is inappropriate", Corker said, adding that the Trump administration "puts Congress in a place where now we feel like we need to speak out, that this can not stand".
Graham called the evidence overwhelming, and said those who deny the crown prince's involvement - including President Trump - are ignoring the evidence. It was shown to the jury during Guzman's trial there and filed as evidence by the USA government.
Sen. Bob Corker says a jury would find the Saudi crown prince 'in about 30 minutes.'
They said the "whole world is certain that he ordered a awful crime against the journalist Jamal Khashoggi".
"I am going to assume they are being good soldiers", Graham said.
That reluctance to blame the crown prince has enraged some Republicans.
Corker is confident that the crown prince is culpable in the murder. He has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the USA and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices.
He added: "We're looking for an appropriate response that doesn't completely fracture the relationship".
Trump has said it may never be known who was responsible for the killing, and in public comments - and a long and unusual statement last week - he reinforced the United States' long alliance with the Saudis. Graham and Paul have also said they think Congress should block a pending arms deal with the kingdom. Speaker Paul Ryan last week said the Yemen resolution "isn't the way to go".
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