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follow Patrick 2018 Dec 4, 6:00pm
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Senators have emerged from a classified briefing by the CIA director, Gina Haspel, saying they are certain that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.“If the crown prince went in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes,” Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate foreign relations committee told journalists immediately after the Haspel meeting.A handful of leading senators from both parties attended the secure briefing from Haspel, who flew to Turkey to hear tapes of the 2 October killing from Turkish intelligence intercepts.The senators were not allowed to disclose details of what they were told, but their reaction reinforced reports that the CIA had accumulated substantial evidence that the crown prince (widely known by his initials MBS) was behind the murder.The Trump administration has said that there is no “direct evidence” of the prince’s culpability, with the defence secretary, James Mattis, insisting there was no “smoking gun”, but Corker said you would have to be “willfully blind” not to see the evidence.“There is no way anyone with a straight face could say they didn’t know what happened,” he said.After Tuesday’s Haspel briefing, the Republican senator Lindsey Graham said: “There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw.”
It has been more than two months since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul only to be immediately murdered and butchered by a 15-man hit squad. And while the Trump Administration struggles to stop the CIA and a coalition of Republican and Democratic lawmakers from throwing a wrench in the works of US-Saudi relations, prosecutors in Turkey are pressing ahead with their plans to hold Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and his top aides accountable for the killing.