CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed a group of senators on Tuesday on the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, resulting in prominent GOP leaders slamming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as the one who ordered the murder — a stark contrast to how President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have handled the matter.
Graham slams crown prince after Khashoggi hearing
After the briefing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) claimed that there is evidence connecting MBS to the murder of Khashoggi.
“If they were in a Democratic administration,” Graham said, referencing Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, “I would be all over them for being in the pocket of Saudi Arabia.”
The senator noted that MBS is “complicit” in the murder of the journalist.
Graham said he will try to get a vote in the Senate on designating MBS as one of the people responsible in the murder, adding, “I want to make sure that Saudi Arabia is put on notice that business as usual has come to an end for me.”
Watch the video below:
.@LindseyGrahamSC on Khashoggi: "0 chance that this happened in such an organized fashion without Crown Prince [being involved]…I have great respect for Pompeo & Mattis [but] If they were in a Dem administration, I would be all over them for being in the pocket of Saudi Arabia" pic.twitter.com/mFZagAnkMd
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 4, 2018
“There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw,” Graham said, referencing a statement the Trump administration said that there was no “smoking gun” linking MBS to the murder.
“You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi.”
Graham said MBS is a “wrecking ball” and that he “cannot see him being a reliable partner to the United States,” adding that the crown prince has “put the relationship at risk.”
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Sen. Lindsey Graham says Saudi Arabia's crown prince is a "wrecking ball" and is "complicit in the murder" of Khashoggi to the "highest level possible."
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 4, 2018
Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally.
The relationship is worth saving.
But not at all costs. https://t.co/SLRgiLBgKw
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 4, 2018
Other GOP members claim “zero question” on Khashoggi murder
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) mirrored what Graham said on the murder of the journalist, claiming he has “zero question” that MBS is “guilty,” according to ABC News.
“I have zero question in my mind that the Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening. Planned it in advance,” Corker said.
“If he was in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes,” he added. “Guilty.”
Corker added that it’s “unacceptable” for Trump to be backing the crown prince by claiming there is no evidence of MBS’ involvement.
Referencing a briefing by Pompeo and Mattis as misleading, Corker said the difference in the two messages on the ties of MBS to the murder is a “difference between darkness and sunshine.”
“I’m going to come down hard like a ton of bricks”
Appearing on Fox News, Graham reiterated his point that he believes it’s “crystal clear beyond any doubt” that MBS was behind the murder.
“This could not have happened without the crown prince knowing about it,” Graham said. “We have a ton of intelligence that the people in charge of killing Mr. Khashoggi work directly for the crown prince. His number one go-to guy orchestrated the move.”
Graham pointed out that having a relationship with Saudi Arabia is in the interest of the U.S. but that MBS cannot have “a pass for murder of an American resident with three American children because then you’re gonna have open season on Americans everywhere.”
“So I’m going to come down hard like a ton of bricks on the crown prince and try to salvage the relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Graham said.
Watch the video below:
Trump and Pompeo side with the Saudi crown prince
Graham’s opposing view on the situation is different than his previous remarks in support of the president on multiple different issues.
Despite claiming that MBS might have known of the murder, Trump previously vowed to keep Saudi Arabia as a “steadfast partner,” also saying that MBS and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman “vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder.”
“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump previously said in a White House statement.
As IJR News noted, the president’s remarks contrast the CIA’s belief that MBS ordered the murder.
In recent days, Pompeo shared that he had seen all of the intelligence on the murder and said there is no evidence tying MBS to the killing, as IJR News noted.
“When it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo said last week. “That is an accurate statement, an important statement and it is a statement that we are making publicly today.”
The killing of Khashoggi occurred Oct. 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.