The US Senate voted 63-37 Wednesday to advance a resolution calling for an end to US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
But at least five of the Republican Senators who voted against the bill have received funding from lobbyists working for Saudi Arabia, a fact that illustrates how the Kingdom uses its vast wealth to influence USA foreign policy.
The Senate's action also came on the heels of a White House veto threat of the resolution, arguing it "would harm bilateral relationships in the region" and hamper counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
Several intelligence agencies and experts, including the CIA, say the crown prince probably orchestrated the killing. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the powerful chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mattis later told reporters at the Pentagon, "there is no smoking gun".
"Not having Gina Haspel, the Central Intelligence Agency director, at this briefing is a cover-up to a critical question that the members of the Senate have as to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and a critical element of U.S. -Saudi relationships", Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez told reporters.
Pompeo spoke to reporters after he and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the Senate behind closed doors that weakening US-Saudi ties over the killing would hurt national security. He pointedly stressed that the USA support for the criminal war in Yemen had been initiated under the previous Democratic administration of Barack Obama.
Trump last week called Saudi Arabia a "steadfast partner" and said it was unclear whether MBS was aware of the plan to kill Khashoggi. You haveCNNreporting the United States slammed the brakes on a UN Security Council resolution on a cease-fire in Yemen, the move reportedly part of the Trump Administration's fear of compromising his very close relationship with Saudi Arabia. "But degrading US-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the USA and its allies".
"We are the one with leverage, but the administration has given it all away", Riedel added.
While the goal was to shore up support for the war in Yemen, some lawmakers were repelled that the White House blocked CIA Director Gina Haspel from attending.More news: Turnovers weren’t Lions’ only problem on offense vs. Bears
"I was asked to be here, and here I am", he said. The United States has already done something similar.
"There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi", Pompeo said. "I think 80 percent of the people left the hearing this morning not feeling like an appropriate response has been forthcoming", Corker said.
Senatorial frustration is understandable, given that the administration sent Pompeo and Mattis to cheerlead the administration's policy of status quo with Saudi Arabia, but not an intelligence official who could provide answers to questions not tailor-made to fit the policy, former CIA analyst Cindy Otis said.
The director of Canada's spy service travelled to Turkey and heard a recording of the Khashoggi's killing during a briefing provided by Turkish officials.
"What senators would want to know is things like, what is the extent of our military support, what has it actually accomplished on the ground".
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during testimony by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC.
"Mohammad bin Salman arrived in Argentina in advance of the G20, the president is going to be going down there, there's no no one-on-one meeting scheduled right now", she said, "but should the president meet with Mohammad bin Salman?"
Pompeo acknowledged to the lawmakers that the Yemen conflict has taken a bad toll on civilians, but argued that Saudi Arabia provides an important counterweight to Iran in the region.
Last year, the oil-rich kingdom spent at least $24m to influence U.S. policy and public opinion, according to disclosures to the Department of Justice made available through the Center for Responsive Politics' Foreign Lobby Watch tool.
Washington does not want to throw any impediment in the way of the US-backed Saudi war, even if it claims the lives of millions of Yemeni men, women and children.