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GOP senator: Trump’s assessment of Khashoggi killing ‘inconsistent with the intelligence’

GOP senator: Trump’s assessment of Khashoggi killing ‘inconsistent with the intelligence’
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWhite House downplays surprising February jobs gain, warns US far from recovery White House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks MORE (R-Utah) said Sunday that the intelligence reports he has seen suggest that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In saying that he believes the crown prince was behind the killing, Lee broke with President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE, who has said it's unclear whether the crown prince was involved in the plot to have Khashoggi killed.

“I disagree with the president’s assessment. It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen," Lee said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Intelligence I’ve seen suggests that this was ordered by the crown prince," he added.

Lee also called for the U.S. to stop aiding Saudi Arabia in Yemen's deadly civil war. 

"This unauthorized, unconstitutional war from our standpoint is not something we ought to be fighting," he said. "This is not an ally that deserves this kind of military intervention, especially because there’s been no connection between the safety of the American people and our involvement in this war.”

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Trump last week said the U.S. will maintain a "steadfast" relationship with Saudi Arabia despite the killing of Khashoggi, who was a columnist for The Washington Post and a resident of Virginia. He was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in October. 

On Thursday, Trump accused the press "of false reporting" after reports that the CIA has concluded that the crown prince was behind the murder. 

“The CIA doesn’t say they did it. They do point out certain things. And pointing out those things, you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn’t,” he said.

The CIA's report has not been publicly released, but several lawmakers have been briefed on its contents. Some Democrats have claimed Trump in his public statements contradicts its conclusion. Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse Democrats want to silence opposing views, not 'fake news' White House defends not sanctioning Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi What good are the intelligence committees? MORE (D-Calif.) said Sunday on CNN that Trump is being "dishonest" about its contents but did not provide further details.