CIA chief to brief US Senate leaders on Khashoggi’s murder
US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Gina Haspel will brief Senate leaders on the death of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who several Senators believe was killed at the order of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Haspel will brief members of the Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Appropriations committees on Tuesday, several sources told The Hill newspaper on Monday. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the news.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week briefed the whole Senate on US-Saudi relations in the wake of the murder of Khashoggi, who was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul on October 2.
The senators, however, found the presentation unconvincing and were also upset at the CIA chief’s absence. The lawmakers wanted to directly hear from her the CIA’s opinion on the Khashoggi death.
The CIA has reportedly concluded that bin Salman ordered the killing.
US President Donald Trump has so far resisted growing calls from both sides of the isle in Congress for a strong response to Khashoggi’s murder, arguing that doing so would endanger deep financial and political ties between the two sides and push Riyadh towards Russia.
Trump’s reluctance to go after bin Salman became clearer after he undermined the CIA assessment that the prince was indeed aware of the murder, despite Riyadh’s denials.
But the biggest reason is perhaps the risk that losing Saudi Arabia’s services would pose to Israel, Trump has admitted.