CIA director Haspel caught in Khashoggi briefing tug-of-war

CIA director Gina Haspel found herself at the center of a political dispute Tuesday amid reports that the Wh...

Posted: Nov 29, 2018 9:52 AM
Updated: Nov 29, 2018 9:52 AM

CIA director Gina Haspel found herself at the center of a political dispute Tuesday amid reports that the White House was blocking her from briefing Senators on the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday that senators were told Haspel will not participate in Wednesday's all-Senate classified briefing alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis despite indications that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would like to hear from her directly about the CIA's assessment regarding Khashoggi's killing.

Central Intelligence Agency

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Donald Trump

Gina Haspel

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Government organizations - US

Homicide

Intelligence services

International relations and national security

Jamal Khashoggi

Misc people

Murder

National security

Political Figures - US

Politics

US Congress

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

US government independent agencies

US intelligence agencies

US Senate

White House

Continents and regions

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

North America

Saudi Arabia

The Americas

United States

Mohammed bin Salman

Political Figures - Intl

Government organizations - Intl

United Nations

Yemen

"We were told that she would not be attending the briefing for members of Congress," Durbin said.

"That is extraordinary when we are dealing with the Khashoggi situation, the assertion by the State Department and intelligence agencies, her absence is obvious and its noted, and it raises a serious question as to whether this administration is giving us the whole truth," he added.

A US official confirmed that Haspel will not attend the briefing, citing the fact that it is a policy-oriented meeting on Yemen and not a situation a CIA director would typically be involved in alongside the defense secretary and secretary of state.

Specifically, Haspel may be able to provide details related to a tape which contains audio of the killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in early October.

White House national security adviser John Bolton dismissed questions on Tuesday about whether he has listened to the recording and President Donald Trump has previously said that he declined to listen to the audio.

Senate Foreign Relations chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, has suggested that the planned Wednesday briefing from Mattis and Pompeo alone would not be sufficient to answer the growing number of questions about Khashoggi's death.

And claims that the White House was actively working to prevent her from testifying only fueled concerns about Trump's willingness to appropriately respond to the murder.

The CIA declined to comment on what led to the decision that Haspel will not brief lawmakers Wednesday.

A Senate aide told CNN that the White House is responsible for determining who briefs the Senate on behalf of the administration, and they seem determined to ignore requests from Corker to include an appropriate intelligence briefer, which could include Haspel or Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Another congressional aide said Tuesday that the White House is attempting to "hide" Haspel in an attempt to prevent her from sharing details that may not align with its public response to Khashoggi's murder.

"If they were confident in their story they would send her to the US Senate and have her brief US senators. But the fact that they are hiding her and not allowing her to tell the Senate what she knows ... it really tells you all you need to know," the aide said.

But Bolton denied claims that the White House was preventing Haspel from participating in the briefing, responding "certainly not" when asked about the reports.

Trump has rankled top lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in recent weeks by signaling he will not take strong action against Saudi Arabia or its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for the murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi.

The President has also raised doubts about the CIA's assessment connecting the regime to the murder.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders pushed back on the assertion Tuesday that Trump does not believe Khashoggi was killed at the direction of the crown prince.

"We haven't seen definitive evidence come from our intelligence community that ties him to that," she said.

A US official told CNN last week that there is still is no smoking gun implicating the crown prince directly and the intelligence assessment is ongoing. Intelligence officials have said the CIA presented the President with a confidence-based assessment given the facts of the situation.

Though sources tell CNN that the CIA has assessed with high confidence that the prince directed Khashoggi's murder, which was conducted by members of bin Salman's inner circle, the fact that they don't make a final conclusion gives the White House an out.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raised concerns about the "abhorrent" actions by Saudi Arabia during a press briefing when asked if he believes the crown prince and others should be punished for Khashoggi's killing.

McConnell noted that senators are currently discussing how to respond but would not answer CNN's question if Haspel should attend Wednesday's briefing.

Congressional lawmakers have continued to push for answers from the administration despite the White House's public response.

Corker warned Monday that there will be "a lot happening" in Congress on Saudi Arabia, including a vote as soon as this week calling for an end to US involvement in Yemen, as he renewed demands for Haspel to brief senators on Khashoggi's murder.

As lawmakers continue to discuss potential options for a response, Trump has signaled he will not take strong action against Saudi Arabia or bin Salman.

Two sources told CNN on Monday that the US has "slammed the brakes on" a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a limited ceasefire and increased humanitarian aid in Yemen over concerns about angering Saudi Arabia.

One source familiar with the negotiations over the resolution tells CNN the US "has slammed the brakes on," saying that "we can't support a resolution at the moment."

The source also said the move is at odds with what US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has been signaling to her counterparts at the UN, since she was supportive of the planned resolution weeks ago.

The White House declined to comment as did the US Mission to the United Nations.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert responded by stating that "negotiating the Security Council Resolution is important as we look to increase international consensus around Yemen."

"Our main focus at this time is offering our support for UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths who is making progress in his negotiations with the Republic of Yemen and the Houthi rebels," she said.

The reason for the delay continues to be a White House worry about angering Saudi Arabia, which strongly opposes the resolution, multiple sources say. CNN reported earlier this month that bin Salman "threw a fit" when presented with an early draft of the document, leading to a delay and further discussions among Western allies on the matter.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 350070

Reported Deaths: 7590
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24512449
DeSoto23513283
Harrison21172335
Rankin15798293
Jackson15735254
Madison11171227
Lee10903180
Jones9223169
Forrest9027163
Lauderdale8087244
Lamar724890
Lowndes7199152
Lafayette6631125
Washington5661140
Pearl River5357154
Oktibbeha503198
Bolivar5004134
Warren4817128
Panola4812112
Marshall4739106
Pontotoc452473
Hancock440388
Neshoba4401181
Union438979
Monroe4369138
Lincoln4228116
Pike3739114
Leflore3676125
Alcorn355374
Tate354988
Sunflower351094
Adams347490
Scott346677
Yazoo342977
Copiah330869
Simpson327191
Itawamba317281
Coahoma315685
Tippah312869
Prentiss302563
Covington302384
Marion289882
Leake288676
Wayne280945
George277351
Grenada272188
Newton266864
Tishomingo240770
Winston238084
Stone235338
Jasper234748
Attala228674
Chickasaw221460
Holmes202574
Clay201954
Clarke189580
Tallahatchie185642
Calhoun183232
Smith183036
Yalobusha173641
Walthall150449
Lawrence145426
Greene141935
Amite139144
Noxubee137235
Perry136138
Montgomery133944
Carroll127031
Webster124332
Jefferson Davis119834
Tunica116127
Benton107825
Claiborne105931
Kemper104429
Humphreys102333
Franklin88424
Quitman86319
Choctaw83119
Wilkinson79332
Jefferson72228
Sharkey51918
Issaquena1746
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 592417

Reported Deaths: 11542
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson861091591
Mobile49771865
Madison37714533
Shelby27501259
Tuscaloosa27344465
Montgomery26343628
Baldwin25860329
Lee17336181
Calhoun15498334
Morgan15225291
Etowah15060370
Marshall13198236
Houston12191293
Elmore10977219
St. Clair10852252
Limestone10816158
Cullman10610206
Lauderdale10305254
DeKalb9594192
Talladega9005188
Walker7840288
Autauga7615114
Jackson7431117
Blount7417139
Colbert6752142
Coffee6443132
Dale5723117
Russell482243
Chilton4810117
Covington4804125
Franklin462781
Tallapoosa4571156
Escambia451083
Chambers3987125
Dallas3751163
Clarke372263
Marion3470107
Pike334079
Lawrence3277100
Winston300773
Bibb292865
Geneva288383
Marengo262967
Barbour253761
Pickens247762
Butler242472
Hale236778
Fayette228165
Henry216545
Monroe204541
Randolph202844
Cherokee200748
Washington186839
Macon171552
Crenshaw170658
Clay167159
Cleburne161845
Lamar151938
Lowndes146255
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh122132
Coosa119529
Perry111228
Sumter110633
Greene99337
Choctaw64425
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 80°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 79°
Oxford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
Thursday will start off once again in the unseasonably cool 60s. We will top off just a few degrees warmer on out Thursday, in comparison to our Wednesday. Most of the high temperatures will be in the lower 90s.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather