GOP senator: 'No proof one way or the other' crown prince was involved in Khashoggi killing

GOP senator: 'No proof one way or the other' crown prince was involved in Khashoggi killing
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonHillicon Valley: Lawmakers angered over Border Patrol breach | Senate Dems press FBI over Russian hacking response | Emails reportedly show Zuckerberg knew of Facebook's privacy issues | FCC looks to improve broadband mapping Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers angered over Border Patrol breach | Senate Dems press FBI over Russian hacking response | Emails reportedly show Zuckerberg knew of Facebook's privacy issues | FCC looks to improve broadband mapping Lawmakers demand answers on Border Patrol data breach MORE (R-Wis.) said early Thursday that there is no proof that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was or was not involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"I have no proof one way or the other," Johnson said on CNN's "New Day" when asked to answer yes or no as to whether the crown prince was involved.

"I think it's reasonable to assume that he probably was aware of it, but again I have no proof. There is no smoking gun."

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The CIA has reportedly said there is "high confidence" that the crown prince was involved in Khashoggi's killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi's death has spawned international outrage.

Republican Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless MORE (S.C.), for example, has said he is certain the Saudi leader was involved and called for a response.

Others in the GOP have taken a softer tone toward the kingdom.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally MORE noted last week that the evidence of the crown prince's involvement was inconclusive and indicated he would not push for his punishment.

Like the president, Johnson on Thursday emphasized wider geopolitical considerations to CNN, given what he said was a dearth of evidence. 

"So I kinda set that aside," Johnson explained. "I don't think I'll ever know the answer to that in any positive way or with 100 percent certainty. So now you deal with reality."

"And the reality is we have a horrible situation in Yemen," he said, referencing the proxy war between a Saudi-led coalition and Iran-funded Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. 

"Nobody likes to see it, and I think the best way to end that situation, to end the slaughter, is America to be involved, to have influence, to bring the parties to the table and force a negotiated settlement."