Saudi crown prince ‘ordered, monitored’ killing of Khashoggi, Corker says

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tours an innovation of Saudi Arabian technology including an exhibit by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology during a visit to Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 24. (Josh Reynolds  AP Im

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tours an innovation of Saudi Arabian technology including an exhibit by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology during a visit to Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 24. (Josh Reynolds AP Im

Corker and other Republican senators, such as Lindsey Graham of SC, have slammed President Donald Trump repeatedly for his stance toward Saudi Arabia following the October 2 killing of Khashoggi, who was a columnist for The Washington Post and a US resident.

A group of senators received a classified briefing Tuesday from CIA Director Gina Haspel that they said convinced them that Prince Mohammed played a role in Khashoggi's killing and dismemberment.

Following a private Central Intelligence Agency briefing on Tuesday, republican senator Lindsey Graham said he had "high confidence" the Saudi leader had a role in the murder and added "you have to be wilfully blind" to disagree.

After the meeting, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters that MBS is "complicit" in the murder.

Among the options: pull back from U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen; deny any arms sales with Saudi Arabia; slap the crown prince with sanctions, along with a resolution saying the Senate finds him complicit in murder.

The prosecutor's office has concluded that there is "strong suspicion" that Saud al-Qahtani and General Ahmed al-Asiri, both removed from their positions in October, were among the planners of Khashoggi's Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, the officials said.

He also said he expected a vote in the Senate next week on a war powers resolution to stop United States support for the war in Yemen, which has produced one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.

Graham said he would not vote for the Yemen resolution.

In addition, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said senators will meet Thursday morning to see if they can agree on a proposal for sanctions against Saudi Arabia.

Corker pointed out that a jury "would have a unanimous verdict in about 30 minutes" if the crown prince went on trial.

The two men also echoed Trump's reluctance to blame the crown prince. Chris Murphy, a Democrat Connecticut who co-sponsored a bipartisan resolution calling for an end to the U.S. role in Yemen.

Saudi authorities have denied Turkey's requests and said the suspects will be tried in the kingdom.

"If someone is saying that Secretary Mattis or Secretary Pompeo were dishonest, they just don't know those individuals", Stewart said.

Last week, Pompeo claimed there was no definitive evidence that MbS was behind Khashoggi's murder, while Mattis simply said there was "no smoking gun".

"It is zero chance, zero, that this happened in such an organized fashion without the [Saudi] crown prince", Graham added.

The administration has sanctioned 17 Saudis expected to involved, but lawmakers are demanding much more serious consequences.

Blunt is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the fourth-ranking member of Senate GOP leadership. "I'm not going to blow past this", he said.

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