After CIA director Gina Haspel briefed a handful of senators on Tuesday about USA intelligence related to the murder of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, lawmakers said they were even more confident that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly involved in the brutal assassination.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, argued Tuesday for maintaining a close diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, because "journalists disappear all over the country".
CIA Director Gina Haspel will give a closed briefing to leaders of several US Senate committees after she failed to take part in a Senate briefing by Trump administration officials on Jamal Khashoggi's killing.
"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw", South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said, referencing Trump administration comments that there is no "smoking gun" showing bi Salman ordered the killing.
A Saudi government critic who was living in self-imposed exile in the US, Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.
There's not a smoking gun.
They said the "whole world is certain that he ordered a awful crime against the journalist Jamal Khashoggi".
Sen. Bob Corker says a jury would find the Saudi crown prince 'in about 30 minutes.'
He once again called bin Salman "crazy" and questioned whether the US can partner with Saudi Arabia if he is in charge. President Donald Trump has said stopping the sales would only help nations such as China and Russian Federation.
The senators were reportedly not allowed to disclose details of what they were told, but their reaction reinforced reports that the Central Intelligence Agency had accumulated substantial evidence that the crown prince was behind the murder.
"Let me just put it this way: I think if he was in front of a jury, he would have a unanimous verdict in about 30 minutes".
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Republican Senator Rand Paul voiced his frustration that "most rank-and-file senators and congressmen" were not invited to the meeting with Haspel.
Graham said that you'd have to be "willfully blind" to not know Mohammed was responsible - a clear rebuke of Trump's argument that this whole thing resides in some kind of grey area. "The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region". In a column for the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Graham wrote that the killing and other moves by the Saudi regime showed "astounding arrogance entitlement" and disregard for global norms. "We're staying with Saudi Arabia". "Of course it does, and yet we have to have a relationship with these individuals- or with these countries".
The Senate could take a vote on proceeding to the Yemen resolution next week.