Senators came out of a closed-door briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday with some pretty unequivocal opinions about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement in Jamal Khashoggi's October death. What you need to know:
- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker put it like so: "If the Crown Prince went in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes."
- NPR points out that when senators were briefed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, Mattis said there was no "smoking gun" that showed the crown prince's hand in the murder. Sen. Lindsey Graham picked up that thread Tuesday, saying there may not be a smoking gun, but there is a "smoking saw," a reference to the bone saw allegedly used to dismember the journalist in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul. He added there is "zero chance" the crown prince, whom he described as a "wrecking ball," didn't play a part, reports the AP.
- And the New York Times has this from Sen. Richard Shelby: "All evidence points to that, that all this leads back to the crown prince. This is conduct that none of us in America would approve of in any way."
- The Washington Post's take: "Senators put themselves in direct opposition to the White House, making clear that the evidence they heard had convinced them beyond the shadow of a doubt."
- And while they were fairly united as it relates to Prince Mohammed, the Times sees senators as being much less unified when it comes to where to go from here, on the heels of last week's vote to consider ending the US' involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The Hill has much more on the efforts and sticking points around the legislation here.
- The AP reports that vote set up debate on the resolution, but when, or even whether, that will happen is unclear, as senators are considering whether to amend the measure, and, if so, how.
- As for who was allowed to participate in the briefing, the Post reports only Senate leaders and the ranking senators on select committees involved in national security and Saudi policy as it relates to Yemen were included.
- Politico reports Rand Paul didn't number among them, and he wasn't pleased with that, saying all senators should have heard Haspel's testimony. "There are eight people in Congress who get briefings on intelligence. That is not democracy. That is not democratic representation nor is it democratic oversight. I think the very definition of the deep state is when the intelligence communities withhold information from Congress."
(Khashoggi learned Saudis read his texts, wrote "God help us."