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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed. Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The CIA has concluded with "high confidence" that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The big picture: MBS has repeatedly stood by his claims that he was not involved in the murder and said he would punish those responsible. The CIA report is "the most definitive to date linking Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration’s efforts to preserve its relationship with a close ally," per the Post.

The details: Per the Post, "the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi. ... Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so." It is unclear whether Khalid was aware of Khashoggi's fate.

What they're saying: A spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in D.C. told the Post that Khalid and Khashoggi didn't talk about "anything related to going to Turkey... [the claims in the CIA's] purported assessment are false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations."

The U.S. has sanctioned 17 people for the killing of Khashoggi including Saudi Consul General Mohammad Alotaibi, who oversaw the Istanbul consulate, and Maher Mutreb, a senior Saudi official who allegedly coordinated the attack.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

5 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.