Rubio: 'No doubt' Saudi crown prince was involved in Khashoggi murder

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USA newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, have reported that the Central Intelligence Agency has evidence that Prince Mohammed exchanged 11 messages with his close aide Saud al-Qahtani, who allegedly oversaw the murder, just before and after it took place.

Republican Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) downplayed Saudi Arabia's alleged killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi during an appearance on CNN today, despite top Senate Republicans declaring they have no doubt Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the murder.

"If we don't stop it now, it gets worse later", Graham said, adding that MBS has been a "wrecking ball" the Middle East.

"If we abandon Saudi Arabia, it would be a awful mistake", Trump said on November 20, when he released a lengthy statement.

Saudi authorities have vehemently denied the crown prince was involved.

It's unclear whether or how that resolution will move forward.

Pompeo said after the briefing that there was "no direct reporting" that connected the prince to the killing.

"As far as the White House and their position is concerned, it is my view that they are trying to preserve from a realistic perspective the importance of the Saudi-US alliance, which I agree with - it is a critical one".

The two-time Oscar victor was also seen outside the consul general's nearby residence, the agency said.

Last week, Canada also slapped 17 sanctions on Saudis who were involved in the murder.

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Republican Sen. Richard Shelby said he wouldn't rule out supporting the resolution this time when it comes up for a full vote.

But two key US Republican senators said a Tuesday briefing by the CIA's director only strengthened their conviction that Prince Mohammed directed the murder.

Bob Corker said he had "zero question in my mind" it was Prince Salman, and Lindsey Graham said the "crazy" crown prince was "complicit" to the "highest level possible".

Senators from both parties were upset that Haspel was not part of a recent closed-door session with top administration officials about Khashoggi's killing and the US response.

USA intelligence community assessments and experts said it's unlikely the killing could have happened without the crown prince's knowledge. Legislators have vowed to punish Saudi Arabia, proposing a measure which would remove US support for the Saudis in the civil war in Yemen.

The president has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the US and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices. He said he would "question somebody's judgment if they couldn't figure this out".

USA intelligence officials have concluded that the crown prince must have at least known of the plot, but Trump has been reluctant to pin the blame. Asked by a reporter if it would be a murder conviction, Corker replied "yes".

Haspel spoke only to Senate leaders and the heads of national security committees with an interest in Saudi policy regarding Yemen and the intelligence surrounding Khashoggi's killing, according to multiple people familiar with the plans.

Turkey will not hesitate to consult worldwide quarters if a deadlock is reached on the Khashoggi probe, the foreign minister said on Wednesday.

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