CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi murder: report 

The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the country's consulate in Istanbul last month, The Washington Post reported Friday.
 
The agency has high confidence in its assessment, the newspaper reported. The CIA reportedly examined multiple sources of intelligence in reaching its conclusion, including a call between the crown prince's brother Khalid bin Salman and Khashoggi.
 
Khalid, who is the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., reportedly told Khashoggi, who was a columnist for the Post, that he should go to the country's consulate in Istanbul to get documents for his marriage to a Turkish woman, offering assurances that he would be safe.
 
People familiar with the call, reportedly intercepted by U.S. intelligence, told the Post that it wasn't clear if Khalid knew Khashoggi would be killed when he returned to the consulate, but said that he made the call at the direction of his brother.
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The Saudi government has claimed that the crown prince was not involved in Khashoggi's death, and a spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington issued a statement Friday denying that Khalid had any phone conversations with Khashoggi.

"The claims in this purported assessment are false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations," the spokesperson said.

The statement added that the ambassador met with Khashoggi once in late September 2017 for a "cordial discussion" and they texted into the following month.

A spokesperson for the CIA didn't immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on Friday evening.

“Alhamdulillah. The truth shall prevail,” Karen Attiah, Khashoggi’s editor at the Post who has been a vocal critic of Saudi explanations for his death, tweeted in response to the newspaper's report on Friday evening.

CIA Director Gina Haspel visited Turkey late last month and briefed President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorsi sues Mueller for alleged leaks and illegal surveillance Comey: Trump 'certainly close' to being unindicted co-conspirator Trump pushes back on reports that Ayers was first pick for chief of staff MORE on her findings once returning to the U.S.

Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to obtain papers for his marriage.

Turkish officials have said that he was killed by a Saudi hit squad shortly after entering the consulate, and was then dismembered and his body removed from the premises.

The Saudi government issued several conflicting explanations for his disappearance before eventually acknowledging that he was killed inside the consulate, while denying that the crown prince was involved.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said this week that it would seek the death penalty for five suspects allegedly involved in the killing.

Khashoggi's death sparked an international firestorm, with bipartisan members of Congress calling on the Saudi royal court to be punished.

“I have a lot of concerns about the trajectory that Saudi Arabia is on right now, and I think a price needs to be paid,” Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCongress digs in for prolonged Saudi battle US-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory Senate edges closer to rebuking Trump on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Thursday.

The White House announced Thursday that it was sanctioning 17 Saudi officials in relation to the killing, including Saud al-Qahtani, a former top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed who the Treasury Department says was part of the “planning and execution” of the operation.

The sanctions mark the United States's most sweeping punishment to date of Saudis over the journalist's killing.

However, NBC News reported Thursday that the White House is weighing deporting a Turkish dissident back to Turkey to try to get the country to ease the pressure it is putting on Saudi Arabia for conducting an assassination on its soil.

Trump has appeared reluctant to impose any severe punishment on Saudi Arabia, including resisting calls to lessen or cancel an arms deal with the kingdom worth billions of dollars.

– Tal Axelrod contributed

Updated: 7:30 p.m.