Dem lawmaker pledges hearings after CIA briefing on Khashoggi

CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed House leaders Wednesday on the agency's findings regarding the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelLessons from the 1999 U.S. military intervention in Kosovo Omar controversies shadow Dems at AIPAC Pelosi rejects any classified briefings on Mueller report MORE (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee who is poised to be chairman next year, emerged from the briefing pledging to hold hearings on the issue in 2019.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The Foreign Affairs Committee intends to hold hearings after the first of the year about all aspects of Saudi behavior,” Engel told reporters. “And we’ll let the chips fall where they may.”

When asked if that includes investigating White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerJordan: Mueller report should end congressional investigations into Trump Fox's Chris Wallace challenges Nadler on whether no more indictments means no 'criminal collusion' Five things we know about Dems' sprawling Trump probe MORE’s relationship with the Saudi crown prince, Engel did not rule out that possibility.

The briefing was held for House Republican and Democratic leadership, as well as the chairs and ranking members of national security–related committees.

Other lawmakers who attended the briefing would not comment afterward or would only say it was “informative.”

Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerOn The Money: Trump issues first veto, warning of 'reckless' resolution | US hits Russia with new sanctions | Dems renew push for contractor back pay | Lawmakers seek probe into undocumented workers at Trump businesses House Dems renew push for government contractor back pay The Hill's Morning Report — Cohen testimony turns up heat on Trump associates MORE (R-Texas), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee who will be ranking member of the full committee next year, said the briefing did not change her mind on the issue but that she "couldn't say" what the conclusion is regarding the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi's death.

The CIA has reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who was a contributor to The Washington Post.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump administration officials have publicly pushed back on that finding, saying there is no “smoking gun” connecting the crown prince. But after Haspel gave a similar briefing to a group of senators last week, they emerged more convinced of Crown Prince Mohammed’s involvement.

The Senate is poised to vote Wednesday on a resolution co-authored by Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Treason narrative collapses; who bears responsibility? Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC MORE (I-Vt.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFather of Sandy Hook victim dies in apparent suicide Sanders: 'We must follow New Zealand's lead' and ban assault weapons The fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change MORE (D-Conn.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeStop asking parents to sacrifice Social Security benefits for paid family leave The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over New Zealand coverage GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (R-Utah) that would withdraw U.S. military support for the Saudi-led military campaign in the Yemeni civil war, a vote widely seen as a rebuke to Trump’s handling of the Khashoggi crisis.

The House is expected to get a briefing Thursday more broadly on Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

But the House is not expected to take up the Senate's Yemen war powers resolution this year. Republican leadership on Tuesday moved to prevent lawmakers from forcing a vote on the issue for the rest of this Congress.

Democrats have pledged to revive the issue when they control the chamber next year, starting in January.

Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTrump waiting on watchdog findings for Pentagon head: report 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths MORE (D-Wash.), who is expected to lead the Armed Services Committee next year, declined to comment after the briefing, but he discussed his plans with reporters earlier on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Defense Writers Group, Smith said he would support sanctioning Saudi Arabia, including Crown Prince Mohammed and his top aides. He also said there needs to be a closer look at how Trump’s handling of human rights emboldened the Saudis.

“Why did Saudi Arabia think they could get away with this?” Smith asked, adding that the most "shocking" thing to him was that "Khashoggi did not present any sort of existential to the Saudi regime. But they have reason to believe they could kill him and the international community would shrug.”

Smith said that while he is a co-sponsor of the war powers resolution introduced by Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHouse Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and 'get it over with' Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Clinton and Ocasio-Cortez joke about Kushner's alleged use of WhatsApp MORE (D-Calif.), that would not end U.S. involvement in Yemen's war. That can only be done but cutting off funding for the Saudi-led effort, he said.

“At the end of the day, the president, going back to Thomas Jefferson, has always been able to do with the military what they wanted to do with the military, until Congress completely cuts off the money,” Smith said. “It is nonetheless important to do what Ro Khanna is doing and what Bernie Sanders is doing because it raises awareness and attention to the problem and the question of what we ought to be doing in Yemen.”