Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

GOP senators accuse Trump Administration of covering up killing

CIA Director to Brief Lawmakers on Saudi Journalist's Murder GOP senators condemn Saudi crown prince for ordering Khashoggi killing
Andrew Cummings | 06 December, 2018, 04:27

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 U.S. senators accused him of ordering the hit.

CIA Director Gina Haspel will brief US lawmakers Tuesday on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker.

Democratic leaders say CIA Director Gina Haspel should give the full Senate the same briefing they received on the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (jah-MAHL' khahr-SHOHK'-jee). After the closed-door meeting, Republican senator and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker told reporters he holds Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly responsible.

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

While some in Congress are calling for a strong response against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the wake of the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, one Republican congressman is taking a different stance. He has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the US and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices. "And yet we have to have a relationship with these individuals and with these countries".

And Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican who was not part of the briefing, said that "by the director choosing to meet with some, but not others, congratulations to her, she has pissed off everybody".

Senators have demanded the White House be more forthcoming about intelligence gathered on the Khashoggi killing and have signaled they may back broader sanctions against the kingdom. The Senate overwhelmingly voted last week to move forward on a resolution curtailing USA backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The South Carolina senator added that the Saudi crown prince was a "wrecking ball" and the United States should come down on the kingdom like a "ton of bricks".

CIA Director to Brief Lawmakers on Saudi Journalist's Murder

"I disagree with that assessment" Rubio said.

"And the second thing is what is in the best interest of the United States and this is a very, very hard challenge because we have to, on one hand, hold them accountable, including the crown prince, for whatever action he may be involved with", the Utah congressman said.

At last week's hearing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis told senators there was no direct evidence of the crown prince's involvement in Khashoggi's death. The Saudis have acknowledged that government officials were responsible for the killing but describe it as a rogue operation and say the crown prince was not involved. Following the briefing, a handful of senators said they believe that MBS ordered the hit on Khashoggi.

Graham is quick to defend Pompeo and Mattis, calling them "good soldiers" in his statement, but he throws Trump under the bus.

Corker said senators are trying to figure out how to amend the resolution, which directs the president to remove most USA armed forces from hostilities affecting Yemen.

Yet lawmakers remained divided over what steps to take next, after a stinging vote last week to consider a measure cutting off American military aid to Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign, the Times said. "I know there are going to be a lot of efforts to try to remove the underlying language and replace it with something weaker".

Three GOP lawmakers have voiced their own conclusions since a separate classified briefing on Tuesday.

US Marine planes crash in Japan
Reports on Twitter indicate that two USA military aircraft have crashed during a midair refueling operation off Iwakuni, Japan. The aircraft involved had launched from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and were conducting regularly scheduled training.

The nation honors George H.W. Bush
Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston , where his late wife, Barbara, was memorialized earlier this year. Bush gave eulogies for both Gerald Ford, who passed away in 2006, and Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004.

US Crude Oil Price Breaks Higher, May Rally Further
It was $61.30 a barrel in trading Monday, while the benchmark North American contract fraded for $52.60 US. However, Putin over the weekend said there was "no final decision on volumes".

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