Grahamnesty must feel not merely victorious in this, after threatening to block key votes when Haspel didn’t show for a briefing on Yemen last week, but downright vindicated. Lefties are constantly dumping on him for making nice with Trump, towards whom he was savage in the 2016 primaries, but this is why he does it. He wants a little influence with the president and you don’t get influence unless you’re chummy with him. So that’s what Graham is. Usually. It seems to have paid off this time.
But let’s face it, Haspel was going to testify sooner or later anyway. Even if Trump had bottled her up for the next month, House Democrats would have hauled her before their committees in January. And it’s not like there’s much mystery left as to what she’ll say. Her colleagues and deputies in the “deep state” have been leaking all over town about Khashoggi for weeks.
CIA Director Gina Haspel will brief Senate committee leaders on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday after members of both parties expressed outrage over the absence of intelligence officials at a briefing last week.
The spy chief will meet with top leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The number of attendees could grow given the concern among both parties about Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey earlier this year.
A brief history of recent Khashoggi leaks. On October 24 WaPo reports that Haspel has listened to the alleged recording of Khashoggi’s murder, citing “people familiar with her meetings.” On November 16 WaPo drops another bombshell according to “people familiar with the matter,” claiming that the CIA has concluded with high confidence that the Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination. Then, yesterday, the WSJ claims it’s seen excerpts of a “highly classified CIA assessment” alleging that the prince sent 11 messages to the ringleader of the Khashoggi murder shortly before and after it happened, fueling suspicions that he knew all about it at the time. That leak apparently incensed Haspel — whereupon reports of her fury also promptly leaked to the Times:
“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.”
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. It has also intensified calls by members of Congress to have Ms. Haspel go to Capitol Hill to brief them.
Was all of this leaking “organic,” so to speak, or is it a reaction to POTUS? Watching him downplay reports that the CIA believed the prince was guilty and then absorbing that amazing presidential statement last week shrugging off the killing might have encouraged some agency deputies to start sharing the evidence with the media. In particular, it seems amazing to a layman like me that the Journal not only had sources whispering to it about the prince’s messages but was given access somehow to excerpts from the CIA’s actual work product. Someone at Langley wants to build a public case against Mohammed bin Salman, classified rules or no classified rules. And if they leaked the news about the messages after Haspel skipped last week’s briefing, they surely would have known that that would make Congress even more insistent on hearing from her directly.
It’s not Graham who forced her to testify, it’s the leaker(s). Makes me wonder if this is a one-off thing or if intelligence leaks of Saudi misdeeds will become a regular occurrence, with intelligence officials essentially fact-checking Trump when he tries to cover for bin Salman by releasing the dirt they’ve compiled on the regime.