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 EngelAl Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric Mystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment 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 KushnerKim Kardashian West thanks Trump, Kushner for helping efforts to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish jail EXCLUSIVE: Career officials rebut claims of White House interference in security clearance process Meghan McCain calls Trump rally 'really dystopian' 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 GrangerLobbying world House approves bill increasing federal worker pay House approves 3 billion spending package 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 SandersBernie SandersBiden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll Analysis: Harris, Buttigieg and Trump lead among California donations The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (I-Vt.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Health care moves to center stage in Democratic primary fight MORE (D-Conn.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Senate to vote on 9/11 victims bill on Tuesday Meghan McCain slams Rand Paul over blocking 9/11 compensation funding: 'This is a disgrace' 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 SmithThe House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort Overnight Defense: Esper officially nominated for Defense secretary | Pentagon silent on Turkey getting Russian missile system | House, Senate headed for clash over defense bill House and Senate head for showdown on must-pass defense bill 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 to test Trump's veto pen on Saudi arms sales Sanders campaign vents frustration with media, polls Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses 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.”