CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed senators on what U.S. intelligence agencies know about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday. Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 and never walked out. Many of the lawmakers to meet with Haspel already seemingly made up their minds that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Khashoggi's murder.
"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is furious with the intelligence agencies for "withholding" information from Congress. He was not at the CIA briefing because it was limited to certain foreign policy committees.
"The very definition of a ‘deep state’ is when the intelligence communities withhold information from Congress,” he said.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who has already established himself as a Trump critic, was even bolder in his criticism. He said it seemed as though the White House's response to the Khashoggi killing was that "you can kill a journalist."
Corker is confident that the crown prince is culpable in the murder.
"I have zero question in my mind that the Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening. Planned it in advanced. If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty."
But there is still some doubt in Trump's mind. He has consistently reminded the press that the crown prince told him he had nothing to do with Khashoggi's disappearance. Trump is also very hesitant to ruin the U.S.'s relationship with the Saudis. Sen. Graham cautioned against that objective.
"It is wrong to suggest that maintaining U.S. alliances consists of mutually exclusive choices between power and principles,” he said.
Still, Trump's cabinet is sharing his sentiments. In an interview with CNN last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said they had no direct evidence to prove Prince Mohammed was behind the murder.
The administration has sanctioned 17 Saudis expected to involved, but lawmakers are demanding much more serious consequences.
"It would be much better if the Commander in Chief would stand up to the free world and say we don't the condone killing of journalists," Corker said.