CIA director will brief small group of lawmakers on Khashoggi murder

CIA Director Gina Haspel is expected to brief a small group of lawmakers Tuesday on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a congressional source.

Haspel will brief the chairmen and ranking Democrats of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to a senator who will be attending the meeting. The meeting will take place at 11 a.m. ET in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility in the basement of the Capitol Visitors Center, the senator told CNN.

Last week, senators rebuked President Donald Trump’s administration when they were denied a CIA briefing on the murder of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist. Khashoggi — who was a US resident, a Washington Post contributor and a frequent critic of the Saudi Arabian government — was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October.

Haspel may be able to provide details about a tape that contains audio of Khashoggi’s murder.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis traveled to Capitol Hill last week without Haspel for a closed-door briefing on Yemen for Senate lawmakers at which they emphasized the strategic importance of the US-Saudi relationship and defended the administration’s response to Khashoggi’s murder.

Pompeo said after the briefing that there was “no direct reporting” that connected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing. But the CIA has concluded that the crown prince personally ordered Khashoggi’s killing, despite the Saudi government’s denials that the ruler was involved, according to a senior US official and a source familiar with the matter.

The briefing without Haspel provoked a backlash, and senators voted to consider cutting US military support to the Saudis in the war in Yemen, a move the administration opposes.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who’s a vocal ally of Trump, said he was not satisfied by Pompeo and Mattis’ testimony and told reporters he switched his vote on the Yemen resolution because he’s “pissed.”

“I changed my mind because I’m pissed,” said Graham, who’s a member of the Armed Services Committee. “The way the administration has handled it is not acceptable,” he said of Khashoggi’s murder.