During her secret visit to Turkey this week, CIA Director Gina Haspel listened to audio that Turkey says captured Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with her meetings. A source familiar with the audio told the Post it is “compelling” and could increase pressure on the Trump administration to hold the Saudis accountable. Congress could also ask Haspel to brief members on the audio recording.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, called Khashoggi’s death a “heinous crime” on Wednesday, but Turkey, U.S. lawmakers, and even President Trump are increasingly skeptical of his denial of involvement in the operation. “How should a real investigation in Saudi Arabia work when one of the main suspects is the crown prince MBS?” a Turkish senior official told the Post. “He is one of the suspects. Members of his royal guard were part of the killing squad. The U.S. nor the rest of the world should really accept this.”
For his part, “Trump is torn between his instincts to fight and punish and the advice he’s receiving from advisers to stick by Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old crown prince,” Vanity Fair reports, citing five Republicans briefed on internal White House discussions. “The most determined backstage voice pushing to not upend the relationship is that of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has made MBS a central node in his yet-to-be-seen Israeli-Palestinian peace plan,” but “while Kushner’s embrace of MBS had strategic logic, it has been a source of frustration for administration officials,” who complain Kushner is out of his depth and compromised.