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Senators confident that crown prince was ‘complicit’ in Khashoggi kill

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Senators from across party lines on Wednesday announced with a “high level of confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was “complicit” in the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a measure calling for the crown prince to be “held accountable” for a lengthy list of human rights abuses, including the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the jailing of Saudi activists without charge, the ruthless detention and extortion of his critics.

The resolution also concluded that the crown prince was “in control of the security forces at the time of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder,” which would have put him at the helm of the “abhorrent” execution plot.

The non-binding resolution calls on the government and the international community to hold Mohammed bin Salman accountable for Khashoggi’s death. If approved, it would put the Senate on record shifting the blame directly onto the crown prince.

“There is no doubt that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, condoned it, and at worst was actually involved in directing it,” Rubio said in a statement Wednesday.

“I believe it’s vitally important to US national security interests to make a definitive statement about the brutal murder of an American resident – Mr. Khashoggi – who has three American citizen children,” Graham said in a parallel statement.

The measure follows CIA briefings on the investigation into the high-profile murder to President Trump and, later, to a small group of senators. The CIA had previously concluded that Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing based on several pieces of intelligence, including audio recordings and security footage.

But as the Khashoggi investigation closes in on Saudi leadership, the White House has been slow to act.

Many have condemned Trump’s response to Khashoggi’s execution, and have accused the president of helping the Saudi leadership “cover up” its wrongdoings.

Trump has doubled down on his defense of the Saudi crown prince this month, and said the US-Saudi relationship is “paramount” in his decision making.

Still, even if the crown prince is implicated in the crime, experts say US business ties to Saudi Arabia run deep, making it difficult to punish the rogue heir to the throne.

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