Pompeo: No 'direct reporting' linking Saudi crown prince to order Khashoggi killing

Pompeo: No 'direct reporting' linking Saudi crown prince to order Khashoggi killing
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWill religious freedom play on the world stage? Democrats threaten to subpoena Pompeo over information related to Giuliani contacts with Ukraine Trump headlines religious freedom event at UN MORE said Wednesday that U.S. intelligence has no “direct reporting” showing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I do believe I have read every piece of intelligence, unless it’s come in in the last few hours,” Pompeo said. “There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to kill Khashoggi. And that’s all I can say in an unclassified setting.”

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Pompeo was speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill after briefing senators on U.S.-Saudi relations and the civil war in Yemen.

The closed-door briefing, which Pompeo conducted alongside Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisClimate change threatens the backbone of America's global power The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' MORE, comes ahead of a vote later Wednesday on a resolution that would end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war.

Pompeo and Mattis are trying to stave off senators itching to punish Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s killing. In prepared remarks released ahead of the briefing, the pair argued cutting off U.S. military support would undercut efforts to improve Saudi behavior and kickstart peace talks.

But the briefing appeared to do little to quell senators’ concerns, with several who previously opposed the Yemen resolution emerging from the briefing saying they will vote to advance it.

Khashoggi, who was critical of the Saudi government in his columns in The Washington Post, was killed in October when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Senators are skeptical the operation to kill him would have been carried out without the approval of the crown prince, who is the kingdom’s day-to-day leader.

The CIA has reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing.

But President TrumpDonald John TrumpNYT publisher: US didn't step in to protect reporter from arrest in Egypt so paper turned to Ireland Trump instructed administration to withhold military aid for Ukraine days before call with president: report More Democrats threaten impeachment over Trump's dealings with Ukraine MORE has pushed back on those reports, saying in an eyebrow-raising statement last week that “we may never know all of the facts surrounding” Khashoggi’s murder.

“No, no, they didn’t conclude,” Trump later said. “No they didn’t conclude. They did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings certain ways. I have the report.”

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed up the president's claim, saying "we haven’t seen definitive evidence from our intelligence community that ties" the crown prince "directly" to the killing.