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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

1 hour ago - Health

CDC panel endorses Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12-to 15-year-olds, following the FDA's emergency use authorization.

Why it matters: Approval from the CDC panel was the final step needed before inoculations could be offered at any vaccination site for this age group.

  • Pfizer has said its vaccine is 100% effective at protecting against COVID-19 in a trial of more than 2,200 children between the ages of 12 and 15.

GOP lawmakers downplay Capitol riot at House hearing

Photo: Jon Cherry via Getty Images

Republican members of Congress sought to minimize the Capitol insurrection at a House hearing on Wednesday, with statements calling pro-Trump rioters "patriots" and other lawmakers falsely denying demonstrators were supporters of the former president at all.

Driving the news: The hearing comes shortly after House Republicans voted to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership over her criticism of former President Trump's actions leading up to and on Jan. 6.

McConnell, McCarthy say 2017 tax law is "red line" in infrastructure talks

The top Republicans in the House and Senate told reporters after meeting with President Biden at the White House that "there is a bipartisan desire to get an outcome" on an infrastructure package, but stressed that revisiting the 2017 tax cuts is a "red line."

Why it matters: Wednesday marked the first time that Biden has hosted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the White House.