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CIA's Haspel Briefs Senate Leaders On Khashoggi Assessment

Dec 5, 2018
Originally published on December 5, 2018 11:59 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to shift gears now to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are calling for the U.S. to take a harder line on Saudi Arabia for its involvement in the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed a small group of senators yesterday on the agency's assessment. And while Haspel herself isn't talking about it, several lawmakers are.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yeah, and they are not happy about what they heard in that briefing. Republican Senator Bob Corker was there. And he said he now has no doubt that Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOB CORKER: I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince, MBS, ordered the killing, monitored the killing.

GREENE: Now, that stands in contrast to what we've been hearing from the Trump administration. This is Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis last week.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIM MATTIS: We have no smoking gun that the crown prince was involved, not the intelligence community or anyone else.

MARTIN: But after Haspel's Senate briefing, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDSEY GRAHAM: There is not a smoking gun; there's a smoking saw.

MARTIN: That is a grim reference to reports that Khashoggi was dismembered with a bone saw. Senators had wanted Haspel to brief them earlier, but the White House reportedly prevented that from happening.

GREENE: And the gap between lawmakers and President Trump may continue to widen on this issue. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez has introduced a bill that would sanction those involved with Khashoggi's death. He told All Things Considered yesterday he believes he has the Republican support to get that bill passed.

(SOUNDBITE OF JULIA KENT'S "GARDERMOEN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.