Senators place blame on Saudi crown prince

CIA Director Gina Haspel departs the Capitol Rotunda after visiting the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush as he lies in state in Washington


In turn, the Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham is sure that holding this briefing will make it hard for the White house "efforts to protect" both the Prince and the relationship with Saudi Arabia as a whole. "By extraditing all suspects to Turkey, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, the Saudi authorities could address those concerns", the official said. But they remain sharply divided over how to do so.

The U.S. has slapped sanctions on Saudis involved in the murder.

So far, President Trump has given the Saudi crown prince the benefit of the doubt about his role in the incident.

He was one of 37 Republicans who voted against advancing a nonbinding resolution last week to end USA support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. He was not in Haspel's briefing, which was attended by a select number of committee chairs and top-ranking Democrats.

Some of the most important evidence may be an audio recording of the murder that Turkey said it has distributed, but Graham said that was not played in Tuesday's briefing.

Erdogan has said the order for Khashoggi's killing probably did not come from King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on Salman's heir and de facto ruler Prince Mohammed.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said he believes if the crown prince was put on trial, a jury would find him guilty in "about 30 minutes". Asked if he would be convicted of murder, Corker replied "Yes".

The measure was introduced one day after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed a group of key senators about the agency's findings in the Khashoggi matter.

"I went in believing the crown prince was directly responsible or at least complicit in this and my feelings were strengthened by the information we were given", Durbin said. "I am only solidified in that view after this briefing".

Trump has equivocated over who is to blame for the killing, frustrating senators who are now looking for ways to punish the longtime Middle East ally.

The Saudi crown prince's tour is his first since Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, was killed early last month inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

"The senators on both sides acknowledge that the president will be hesitant on this issue, as he has clearly thrown his hat in with the crown prince", Lobb concluded. He said finding a compromise will be hard because some lawmakers don't want to tie Yemen to the Khashoggi killing. He said he was working with colleagues on how to amend the resolution, and he had not had suggestions from the Trump administration on how it might prefer to proceed.

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