News ID: 239822
Published: 0401 GMT March 05, 2019

GOP senators vent frustration after Khashoggi briefing

GOP senators vent frustration after Khashoggi briefing
LEFTERIS PITARAKIS/AP

GOP senators said on Monday that they were frustrated by a closed-door briefing from the administration on last year's slaying of US resident and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Members of the Trump administration briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday evening about an investigation, ordered by members of the panel last year, into Khashoggi’s death, thehill.com reported.

But Republicans on the committee appeared underwhelmed by the meeting, indicating that they didn't learn new information.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the panel, told reporters that it was "a complete waste of time." Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) added that he heard nothing that changed his mind about the killing.

"The Senate will have to decide whether it’s going to impose its own sanctions," Rubio said.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said that the briefing was "frustrating" for many members of the panel. 

"We learned very little," Romney added.

Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. The Saudi government said the killing was carried out by rogue agents as part of an interrogation that went off track — an explanation that has been met with heavy skepticism by lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 

Khashoggi's death has emerged as a sticking point between senators, who believe Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the slaying, and President Trump, who has stuck by Saudi Arabia.

The US intelligence community has reportedly determined that the Saudi crown prince ordered the death of Khashoggi, who was a critic of the government, even as Trump has stopped short of echoing that view. 

"It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t! That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi," Trump said in a statement last year. 

Several Senate Democrats filed a bill late last month to force the Trump administration to issue a public report on Khashoggi's death. And the Senate passed a resolution late last year that named the Saudi crown prince as "responsible," in a significant break with the administration.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement after Monday night's briefing that they were also reviewing written material from the State Department. 

"As the investigation continues and we learn more, we will keep all apprised," Risch said. "This is a work in progress, and we will not let it go.”

   
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