Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that a briefing with CIA director Gina Haspel confirmed his initial belief that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered at the direction of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
“I left the briefing with high confidence that my initial confidence is correct,” Graham told reporters after exiting the briefing.
Graham, who led the bipartisan call for the White House to allow Haspel to brief lawmakers after she was reportedly barred from a briefing last week, said bin Salman’s role in Khashoggi’s assassination disqualified him as a potential diplomatic partner to the U.S.
“Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, and the relationship is worth saving. But not at all costs… [bin Salman] is a wrecking ball. I think he is complicit in the murder of Khashoggi in the highest level possible… I cannot see him being a reliable partner to the US,” Graham said.
Asked if there was a key piece of intelligence that convinced him his initial assesment of bin Salman’s culpability was correct, Graham responded that while there is “no smoking gun,” there is a “smoking saw,” presumably referring to the bone saw that was used to dismember Khashoggi so that Saudi operatives could carry his remains out of the Saudi embassy in Istanbul where he was murdered.