Canada sanctions 17 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi killing

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pauses during a news conference at the State Department in Washington U.S

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said Thursday he was working with senators from both parties to try to cut a deal to formally rebuke Saudi Arabia over its role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the latest sign that Republicans want to go further than President Donald Trump in responding to the actions of a key USA ally. That measure could face opposition if it includes funding for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, as the president has called for.

Saudi Arabia has said the prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler, had no prior knowledge of the murder.

Mattis later told reporters at the Pentagon, "there is no smoking gun".

However, Khashoggi's brutal killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has developed into a "major scandal" that endangers the US' "multi-billion dollar arms sales with Saudi Arabia", Colin Cavell, associate professor of political science at Bluefield State College, said.

Senators are also scheduled to vote on the controversial nomination of Thomas Farr for a North Carolina judicial seat.

The Senate on Wednesday advanced a resolution that would end US military support for the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen that human rights advocates say is wreaking havoc on the country and subjecting civilians to indiscriminate bombing.

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Michael De Dora - the Washington advocacy manager at the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom - read a statement on behalf of the organization in support of the resolution.

Although the US imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials who were allegedly involved in Khashoggi's murder, Trump has been hesitant to take further steps, noting that Washington's intent to remain a close ally of Riyadh.

Mr. Trump has absolved the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in the killing, putting the president at odds with those lawmakers and the C.I.A., which concluded that Prince Mohammed had ordered the killing.

On November 19, in his first public remarks since the murder but without making direct reference to it, Saudi King Salman backs the crown prince - his son - and praises the judiciary.

In a statement, Central Intelligence Agency spokesman Timothy Barrett said "the notion that anyone told Director Haspel not to attend today's briefing is false". Her failure to testify was the result of an order from the White House, given that she would be compelled to either lie under oath or contradict the narrative advanced by Pompeo and Mattis.

Senators voted 63-37 in favor of the proposal just hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had implored them not to curtail U.S. assistance to the Saudi military, arguing that pulling back would worsen the war.

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Human Rights Watch is also waiting for the crown prince, having urged Argentine prosecutors to charge him with war crimes over the Saudi-led military coalition's action in Yemen.

"I have laid on the railroad tracks to keep us from doing things that I believe are against our national interest, as it relates to Saudi Arabia", Corker said. We understand that Saudi Arabia is an ally, of sorts, and a semi-important country.

A Saudi-led coalition is fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Lee said while the Houthis are no friends of the United States, they don't pose a threat to national security.

"I think it would have teeth", Corker said of the developing plan, which he said he hoped would be on the floor Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Two days later, Riyadh finally admits Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate after talks deteriorated into a "brawl". A meeting with Trump has not been ruled out by the White House.

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