GOP lawmaker on Khashoggi killing: 'Journalists disappear' all over the world

Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartAtlanta Wendy's 911 call the night of Rayshard Brooks's death released Tyler Perry offers to pay for funeral of Rayshard Brooks Current, former NHL players form diversity coalition to fight intolerance in hockey MORE (R-Utah) on Tuesday appeared to downplay Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying that "journalists disappear" in lots of countries.

“Journalists disappear all over the country. Twenty have been killed in Mexico. You don’t think it happens in Turkey and China? Of course it does,” Stewart, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN anchor Brianna Keilar on Tuesday after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed a select group of senators on the death of the Washington Post contributor.

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"We have to have a relationship with these countries," Stewart said. “We have to have a relationship with players we don’t agree with."

Stewart insisted that Saudi leadership will be held “accountable, including the crown prince, for whatever action he may have been involved with,” shortly before discussing how lawmakers should set their sights on protecting U.S. interests with the Saudis.

“What will bring an end to the war in Yemen?" he said. "You have to balance all that was as we move forward.”

“As the administration moves forward, is there not a commitment to telling the truth?” Keilar asked him. “It seems like what is bothering the senators, bipartisan among them — including folks who supported Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration is that the Trump administration turned a blind eye to the facts.”

Stewart responded by defending President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE and his support of Saudi leadership amid the ongoing investigation into Khashoggi’s death.

Senators emerged from Tuesday's closed-door briefing with Haspel by blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the death of Khashoggi and promising further action.

"I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince directed the murder and was kept apprised of the situation all the way through. I have zero question in my mind," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerHas Congress captured Russia policy? Tennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump MORE (R-Tenn.), who is retiring in January, said after the briefing.

“You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Key Democrat opposes GOP Section 230 subpoena for Facebook, Twitter, Google MORE (R-S.C.), using the crown prince’s initials.

Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He had been an outspoken critic of Saudi leadership as an opinion writer for The Washington Post.

Riyadh has made efforts to distance the crown prince from the death following news reports that the CIA concluded that Khashoggi was killed on his orders.

Trump has been reluctant to point the finger of blame at the crown prince, saying the Saudi leader has denied any involvement in the journalist's slaying.