A bipartisan group of senior senators on Tuesday said that a classified briefing by the Central Intelligence Agency director had only solidified their belief that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
Khalid bin Salman flew back to Riyadh shortly after Khashoggi was killed at the consulate in Istanbul on October 2 as criticism mounted against the kingdom for initially denying anything happened to the writer.
"That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi". Graham said Tuesday the difference between the Haspel briefing and the one last week was "like darkness and sunshine" in terms of shedding light on MBS's involvement in Khashoggi's killing.
The chief prosecutor's office in Istanbul said the pair were "among the planners" of the murder of the Washington Post contributor.
Thus, every time the White House tries to put the matter to rest, it only appears to inflame the issue, which is also fueling support for a push to end US involvement in the war in Yemen.
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.
Trump Tries to Calm Global Markets After Stocks Drop Sharply
The three-month period halted the addition of new tariffs by both countries and was aimed at resolving the ongoing trade dispute. He had earlier also indicated that the deadline for an agreement could be extended.
Senators had wanted a briefing from Haspel about the CIA's assessment that bin-Salman was behind the killing but the Trump administration had sent instead secretaries of state and defence Mike Pompeo and James Mattis to bring them.
The crown prince ordered and monitored the killing, Senator Bob Corker said.
After initially saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that he was killed there, blaming his death on a group of rogue Saudi operatives.
And a Saudi embassy spokesperson tweeted Tuesday: "At no time did HRH (His Royal Highness) the Crown Prince correspond with any Saudi officials in any government entity on harming Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen".
However, several reports have suggested that the Saudi prince was involved in the murder. "Guilty", Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), who now chairs the Foreign Relations committee, said after the briefing. Graham said that may be true, but there is certainly a "smoking bonesaw", alluding to the murder weapon suspected to have killed Khashoggi. US intelligence officials have said that the murder was carried out by agents of the Saudi government and ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Corker said it's going to be hard to determine what measure the Senate can pass with overwhelming support.
"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.