Bob Corker
Bob Corker Reuters

Leading Republican lawmakers said on Tuesday that there was "zero question" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The lawmakers, who were quoted by ABC News, spoke following a briefing by CIA director Gina Haspel Tuesday on the murder of the Washington Post columnist, who was a known critic of the Saudi Crown Prince.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said, "I have zero question in my mind that the Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening. Planned it in advance. If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty," Corker said.

Corker called the Trump administration's claim that there is no direct evidence of the crown prince's involvement "unacceptable."

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, "There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw."

"You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi," he added, according to ABC News.

"If the Saudi government is going to be in the hands of this man, I find it very difficult to be able to do business because I think he's crazy, I think he's dangerous, and he has put the relationship at risk," said Graham, who concluded that he can no longer support arms sales to the kingdom.

The Turkish government has accused Saudi Arabia of murdering the dissident journalist, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and chopping his body into pieces.

Saudi Arabia has admitted that Khashoggi was killed after entering the consulate in Istanbul, after previously denying Turkish claims that he was murdered. At the same time, the Saudi leadership claimed Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue” operation and denies any connection to the murder.

Recent reports have indicated that the CIA has concluded the Saudi Crown Prince ordered the killing, but the State Department has clarified the government was still working on determining responsibility for the death of Khashoggi.

Some US lawmakers have called for a strong US response to Khashoggi's murder, including blocking arms sales and imposing sanctions beyond those that Washington slapped on 17 Saudis allegedly involved in the killing.

President Donald Trump has reaffirmed his support for Saudi Arabia, despite the murder of Khashoggi, insisting the US-Saudi Arabian alliance is beneficial not only for American interests, but also for those of Israel.