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CIA director Gina Haspel is expected to brief senators on Khashoggi killing Tuesday

Senate briefed on U.S.-Saudi relations

WASHINGTON — CIA director Gina Haspel is expected to brief a handful of senators — including leaders of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees — on Tuesday about U.S. intelligence related to the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a congressional source familiar with plans for the briefing told CBS News.

The CIA declined to comment on this report.

Haspel's visit to Capitol Hill comes less than a week after her absence at a closed-door briefing on U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen triggered an uproar among key lawmakers. After the briefing, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, senators voted overwhelmingly, 63-37, to advance a resolution to cut American military assistance to Saudi Arabia. 

Khashoggi's brutal murder on Oct. 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, has generated a rift between the Trump administration and some of its most consistent supporters in Congress — including Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who threatened last week to withhold key votes until he received a briefing from Haspel. Graham later said he had been notified that a briefing would be forthcoming. 

The CIA has assessed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, ordered Khashoggi's killing, based mainly on an understanding of how the kingdom operates and the proximity of several members of the team involved to the prince, officials told CBS News

The Saudi government has repeatedly denied that the heir to their throne was involved in Khashoggi's assassination, and instead placed blame on former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri, who it said last month was the highest-ranking official to authorize the attack.

In November, the Trump administration announced sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals for their alleged involvement in Khashoggi's murder. Saoud al-Qahtani, a close aide to the crown prince was designated as a sanctions target, but neither the crown prince nor Asiri were on the list.

Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.