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Paul slams CIA for keeping him out of Saudi briefing

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFauci to Chelsea Clinton: The 'phenomenal amount of hostility' I face is 'astounding' GOP's attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message Fox host claims Fauci lied to Congress, calls for prosecution 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.

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“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.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Lindsey Graham: Dismissal of Wuhan lab leak theory cost Trump 2020 election Tim Scott: Could be 'very hard' to reach police reform deal by June deadline MORE (R-S.C.) said the intelligence community has asked that the briefing be to a limited audience, unlike last week’s Senate-wide classified session led by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike Pompeo Sunday shows preview: Infrastructure expected to dominate as talks continue to drag The triumph and tragedy of 1989: Why Tiananmen still matters Pence slams Biden agenda in New Hampshire speech MORE.

“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