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Graham says White House promised CIA briefing on Khashoggi "soon"

Senate briefed on U.S.-Saudi relations
Senate briefed on U.S.-Saudi relations 08:32

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he has heard from the White House regarding his demand for a briefing by the CIA about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and expects to be briefed "soon."

"I'm going to have the CIA call, and that's good," Graham told reporters Thursday.

Graham, a Trump ally, had threatened to withhold his vote on a spending bill until he heard directly from the CIA about Saudi involvement in the murder of Khashoggi in October. In a rebuke to the kingdom, the Senate voted Wednesday to advance a measure to cut off funding for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen.

"If that briefing is not given soon, it's going to be hard for me to vote for any spending bill," Graham told reporters Wednesday.

The intelligence agency was conspicuously absent from a Capitol Hill briefing on Wednesday before the vote, evoking the ire of lawmakers from both parties. Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senators the White House made the decision not to send the CIA director. 

Unlike Pompeo and Mattis, CIA Director Gina Haspel has listened to the audio recording that allegedly captured Khashoggi's killing. The Saudi journalist was killed by Saudi operatives in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. 

Graham told reporters Thursday the White House told him "that they're going to brief me, I said I appreciate it ... I would recommend they brief the entire Senate, but they're going to brief me."

The CIA has intelligence substantiating an assessment the crown prince ordered Khashoggi's killing, officials said. The CIA's assessment appeared to be largely based on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's control over the country, with the assumption being the operation could not have been ordered without his knowledge. 

Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that "there is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi." Defense Secretary Jim Mattis later spoke along similar lines, saying at the Pentagon the U.S. has "no smoking gun that the crown prince was involved." 

After the Wednesday briefing, Graham told reporters he was "pissed." 

"The way the administration has handled the Saudi Arabia event is just not acceptable," he said.

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