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'There's not a smoking gun but a smoking saw': US senators oppose Trump on Saudi journalist's murder

The CIA’s director briefed a small group of senators about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi yesterday.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman adjusts his robe as leaders gather at the G20 last week
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman adjusts his robe as leaders gather at the G20 last week
Image: Ricardo Mazalan/PA Images

TWO US REPUBLICAN senators have “zero” doubt that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after a briefing by the CIA’s director.

The explosive new declarations contrast with the White House’s narrative downplaying links between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the killing of the Saudi critic at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October.

“I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince directed the murder and was kept appraised of the situation all the way through it,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker said after CIA director Gina Haspel briefed some senators.

“If MBS were in front of a jury he’d be convicted in less than 30 minutes.”

Fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has urged Trump to take a far tougher stance against Riyadh over the killing, also attended the hour-long briefing.

He minced no words afterwards, saying he believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is “a wrecking ball” who is “complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi to the highest level possible.”

“There’s not a smoking gun but a smoking saw,” Graham added.

After reports that the CIA concluded that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination in the Istanbul consulate on 2 October, Trump issued a statement saying US-Saudi relations and oil market stability were too important to rock over the scandal.

Last week, under pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Pentagon chief Jim Mattis held a closed-door briefing where they said there was no direct evidence linking the crown prince to the murder.

On Tuesday Graham swatted their assessment aside.

“You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organised by people under command of MBS, and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr Khashoggi.”

© AFP 2018 

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