The other day lawmakers made a big deal about the fact that Gina Haspel, the Director of the CIA, didn’t come to the Senate briefing on the Khashoggi murder.
But now it appears that she will brief lawmakers:
CIA Director Gina Haspel is expected to brief a small group of lawmakers on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday, per a congressional source.— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) December 3, 2018
Source confirms @WSJ reporting - CIA director Gina Haspel will brief certain committee leaders (SFRC, SASC) on Tuesday, less than a week after her absence at a closed-door briefing on Yemen caused an uproar among - and subsequent backlash from - key lawmakers— Olivia Gazis (@Olivia_Gazis) December 3, 2018
SFRC is the Committee on Foreign Relations and SASC is the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Regarding the CIA assessment that was earlier leaked, the NY Times had this to say about it:
The C.I.A. has evidence that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, communicated repeatedly with a key aide around the time that a team believed to have been under the aide’s command assassinated Jamal Khashoggi, according to former officials familiar with the intelligence.
The adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, topped the list of Saudis who were targeted by American sanctions last month over their suspected involvement in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. American intelligence agencies have evidence that Prince Salman and Mr. Qahtani had 11 exchanges that roughly coincided with the hit team’s advance into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where Mr. Khashoggi was murdered.
The exchanges are a key piece of information that helped solidify the C.I.A.’s assessment that the crown prince ordered the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident who had been critical of the Saudi government.
“This is the smoking gun, or at least the smoking phone call,” said Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. official now at the Brookings Institution. “There is only one thing they could possibly be talking about. This shows that the crown prince was witting of premeditated murder.”
They also point out via sources that the leaking of the assessment infuriated Haspel:
The existence of the intercepts was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed a highly classified document on the C.I.A. assessment of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. The leak of the secret report, according to officials, infuriated Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director…
I think it’s good that she’s going to brief lawmakers. Her absence the other day made it look as though the White House was blocking her from speaking to Congress on the matter since her assessment seemed to conflict with Trump’s own assessment.
If this reporting on the assessment is true, then you can see why Trump says there’s no direct evidence connecting the Saudi Crown Prince to the murder. All they have is the record of these communications between Salman and al-Qahtani, not the actual conversations themselves.
But will that be enough to satisfy lawmakers? I doubt it.