Senate votes to end Saudi support over Jamal Khashoggi murder

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Many complained about the failure of CIA director Gina Haspel to appear at the briefing to discuss US intelligence about Saudi authorities' roles in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "But I may now be willing to get on the [legislative] vehicle, knowing it can be amended, to figure out some way for us to send the appropriate message to Saudi Arabia that appropriately displays American values and American national interest".

"The Saudis have gone off the rails". Several senators emerged from the briefing saying they planned to vote for legislation that would curtail U.S. involvement in the war.

In other words, in the interest of "national security", Washington must aid and abet the cover-up of bin Salman's direction of the savage assassination of Khashoggi.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Wednesday he would withhold his vote on any key issue, including upcoming spending bills, until the Central Intelligence Agency briefs senators about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The way the administration has handled Saudi has been unacceptable, briefing didn't help me today at all.

Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was disappointed Haspel was not present at the briefing, but declined further comment. Mattis later told reporters at the Pentagon, "there is no smoking gun".

"The Saudis, lobbyists, the Secretary of Defense, none of them have been able to stop this anger which is brewing".

"We have not changed, (in) that accountability for the murder is our expectation of everyone involved in the murder".

Khashoggi, a frequent contributor to The Washington Post and critic of the crown prince, was killed on October 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Pompeo said based on all the intelligence he has seen, there is no direct evidence linking the crown prince to Khashoggi's death.

He has also cast doubt on the CIA's reported conclusion that MBS was behind the killing. But extended debate could serve as a powerful symbolic step - and allow lawmakers to address alternative paths in US-Saudi relations.

In remarks prepared for a closed-door session with senators, Mattis argued that acting to punish Saudi Arabia now could derail the latest effort to convene peace talks on Yemen that could begin as early as next week. "It would encourage the Iranians", Pompeo said.

Pompeo was asked why Haspel didn't accompany him and Mattis.

"They lost votes this morning", he said.

The US Secretary of State said Riyadh is helping manage the flood of refugees fleeing Syria's civil war by working with host countries and cooperating closely with Egypt.

They warned that "14 million people are at risk of starving to death in Yemen" and that "countless Yemenis are unlikely to live through the winter unless the parties to the conflict immediately cease hostilities".

The ongoing conflict has killed thousands, left millions of civilians on the brink of starvation and created a devastating humanitarian crisis across Yemen.

Some Republican senators surmised that if momentum builds around the Yemen resolution, leaders could feel compelled to include punitive measures against Saudi Arabia in the must-pass funding bill.

Congress has never actually voted to authorize the use of the United States armed forces to support the Saudi coalition in its battle against Houthi forces in Yemen.

The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

After initially saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that he was killed there. "Long-standing relationships guide but do not blind us".

Mnuchin added that the United States "continues to diligently work to ascertain all of the facts and will hold accountable each of those we find responsible in order to achieve justice for Khashoggi's fiancée, children, and the family he leaves behind".

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