Paul slams CIA for keeping him out of Saudi briefing

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP Arizona lawmaker says Fauci and Birx 'undermine' Trump's coronavirus response Fauci: 'We are not going in the right direction' FBI says Breonna Taylor case is 'top priority' for Louisville agents MORE (R-Ky.) is criticizing the CIA for denying him a seat at a closed-door intelligence briefing Tuesday with CIA Director Gina Haspel where the Saudi crown prince’s role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was discussed.

Only a select group of senators were invited to the CIA briefing. It included the chairmen and ranking members of national security-related committees: Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Appropriations, in addition to the Appropriations subcommittees for the State and Defense Departments. Senate.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell'Comrade' Trump gets 'endorsement' from Putin in new mock ad by Lincoln Project ACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Carville repeats prediction that Trump will drop out of race MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerRepublicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Top intelligence officials to brief Gang of Eight on Thursday MORE (D-N.Y.) were also invited.

“Today there's a CIA briefing going on right now, for which most rank-and-file senators and congressmen have been excluded,” Paul said. “I think it's wrong for the CIA to have expressed a conclusion that the Crown Prince was involved with the killing of Khashoggi and then withhold that information. I know about the information of the CIA's conclusions only by reading it in the media.”

Paul offered a series of questions he would have asked if he had been a part of the briefing.

“Was the crown prince’s brother communicating with Khashoggi? Telling him it was fine to go to the consulate in Istanbul? Were there text messages sent back from the killers to the crown princes’ office? Was there phone conversation between the Crown Prince and the killers,” Paul said.

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“There was a desire by the intelligence community to limit the number of people briefed ­— after that request was made, I understand now why they want to keep it more limited than before,” Graham said.

But Paul questioned whether the information discussed needed to be classified or was classified.

“The newspaper has written that the CIA has concluded with high probability that the crown prince was involved [in Khashoggi’s killin]. That doesn't sound to me like something classified,” he said. “How you come about it, all the details, you can see how some of that has to be classified, but the conclusion … rank-and-file members are being prevented from even hearing it.”

Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Lawmakers who attended the CIA briefing on Tuesday said it left them convinced that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.

—Molly K. Hooper