Defense Secretary James Mattis is defending the Trump administration's response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as questions continue to swirl about the CIA's conclusions.
Mattis told reporters Wednesday that there is "no smoking gun" implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of the Washington Post columnist last month, saying that he has personally reviewed the intelligence that has been collected. But The New York Times reports that the CIA has concluded bin Salman did, in fact, order the killing. CNN backs this up, reporting that the CIA has "assessed with high confidence that the prince directed Khashoggi's murder." When asked if this was correct, Mattis would not answer, simply telling reporters, "There you need to go to the CIA."
President Trump himself has claimed that the CIA "did not come to a conclusion" and they just "have feelings certain ways," reports the Times.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also defended the administration's response to the murder in a closed door meeting with senators about Yemen on Wednesday, telling lawmakers that there is "no direct reporting" implicating the crown prince, per CNN. CIA Director Gina Haspel did not participate in the meeting, which Pompeo reportedly said was a decision made by the White House, although a CIA spokesperson denies anyone told her not to attend. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was not happy about this, saying the meeting was "inadequate" because the CIA did not participate. Watch Mattis' comments below. Brendan Morrow