'Not a Smoking Gun...A Smoking Saw': Senators Convinced on Khashoggi Killing

Geraldine Edwards
December 6, 2018

A Turkish court has issued arrest warrants for two suspects close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, raising pressure on the kingdom's de facto leader after two USA senators accused him of ordering the hit.

"The views that I had before have only solidified", said Menendez, who has called for a strong United States response to Khashoggi's death and backs legislation to end all American support for the Saudi coalition waging war in Yemen, a conflict in which tens of thousands have been killed or starved to death.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he believes if the crown prince were put on trial, a jury would find him guilty in "about 30 minutes".

"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw", Graham told reporters, apparently referring to the bone saw that the Khashoggi assassins brought along when they entrapped, killed, and dismembered him in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator and close ally of Trump, said: "There's not a smoking gun - there's a smoking saw".

Turkey's top prosecutor issues arrest warrants for former royal adviser and former deputy chief of intelligence to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman along with 18 other suspects; Trey Yingst reports from Jerusalem. He has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the USA and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices.

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But, Stewart said, the United States has to continue relationships with those countries.

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, a former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also voted no on advancing the resolution.

The measure was introduced one day after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed a group of key senators about the agency's findings in the Khashoggi matter.

Senators in the coming week are likely to consider a resolution that would restrict USA support for the Saudi military campaign in Yemen, which has contributed to a humanitarian disaster.

Saudi authorities have vehemently denied the crown prince was involved.

"Every senator should hear what I heard this afternoon", Durbin said.

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The Yemen legislation, which may face another procedural vote this week, could set up a bitter year-end Senate floor fight over U.S. war powers. "It's their right. We always share information (with them) but Saudi Arabia needs to be transparent with us and with the global community", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference in Brussels, Belgium.

But "the brutality of this murder is beyond my sharing it with you", Graham said.

Senators had wanted a briefing from Haspel about the CIA's assessment that bin-Salman was behind the killing but the Trump administration had sent instead secretaries of state and defence Mike Pompeo and James Mattis to bring them. "I just don´t know what it is going to be, or who will be implicated, but we will follow it as far as we can".

Saudi Arabia maintains the crown prince did not know anything about the murder, which it claims was an accident.

Corker also suggested that the briefing last week, which featured Pompeo and Mattis but not Haspel, was entirely misleading.

"Somebody should be punished, but the question is: How do you separate the Saudi crown prince from the nation itself?"

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But the White House's decision to make Haspel available-though only to a small group of recalcitrant senators-has backfired again, since it whetted the appetite of more senators for a briefing of their own.

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