The gulf between the White House and USA lawmakers regarding Saudi Arabia grew Wednesday after two top members of President Donald Trump's national security team provided a classified briefing to the full Senate.
President Trump was headed to Argentina on Thursday to meet with fellow world leaders after a stinging setback from his own country's legislature over the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
"I want to get briefed, OK?" he told a handful of reporters.
Human Rights Watch accuses the prince of war crimes in Yemen and responsibility for the gruesome slaying of newspaper columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.
The bipartisan vote was viewed as a rebuke to both Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration, which is leading the war in Yemen, and President Trump for their handling of the Jamal Khashoggi murder, Senate leaders said.
In their testimony on Wednesday, both Pompeo and Mattis insisted that there existed no conclusive evidence or "smoking gun" establishing that Saudi Arabia's crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing and dismemberment of Khashoggi in Istanbul.
The Senate voted 63-37 to agree to a motion to discharge the Foreign Relations Committee from considering the measure, which authorizes the chamber to begin mulling the resolution, a debate that is likely to occur next week.More news: After Khashoggi killing, Saudi prince seeks to rebuild image overseas
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Trump's attempts to whitewash the crown prince's role in the killing have come under criticism after the Central Intelligence Agency concluded with a high level of confidence that MBS ordered the killing of Khashoggi, according to the recordings, a key piece of evidence obtained by Turkey.
"We have 17 individuals that have been sanctioned already".
Several senators complained about the absence of CIA Director Gina Haspel from the closed-door session.
A Kremlin aide said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would discuss Khashoggi with Prince Mohammed in Buenos Aires, but the main aim of their meeting would be to talk about the "development" of Russian-Saudi relations.
Pompeo was asked why Haspel didn't accompany him and Mattis.
The two top Cabinet officials appeared at a closed-door meeting ahead of a Senate vote Wednesday afternoon on a resolution to rein in USA military support for the kingdom. "People who speak Arabic have listened to the tape, and they've given us the substance of what's in it". The U.S. has provided limited support, including intelligence sharing, logistics and, until recently, aerial refueling, according to the White House. "But I also recognize that we can not limit civilian casualties or advance the peace effort commencing early next month in Sweden by disengaging" with the Saudis, he said in his prepared remarks.
Pompeo acknowledged to the lawmakers that the Yemen conflict has taken a awful toll on civilians, but argued that Saudi Arabia provides an important counterweight to Iran in the region.
Corker said the resolution was the only means available to address an imbalance in the Trump administration's and Riyadh's handling of Khashoggi's murder, if not the relationship overall. But I have read the translation twice, the day they were given to me, and I have also - beginning around ted days ago, two weeks ago, ten days ago - that I reviewed once again all the intel we have.