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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 mins ago - Technology

AI is industrializing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Artificial intelligence is becoming a true industry, with all the pluses and minuses that entails, according to a sweeping new report.

Why it matters: AI is now in nearly every area of business, with the pandemic pushing even more investment in drug design and medicine. But as the technology matures, challenges around ethics and diversity grow.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

National Guard chief: Pentagon's "unusual" Jan. 6 restrictions led to 3-hour delay

William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, testified Wednesday that a three-hour delay in approval for National Guard assistance during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was exacerbated by "unusual" restrictions on his authorities by Pentagon leadership.

Why it matters: Walker testified that if Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had not prohibited him in a Jan. 5 memo from using the National Guard's "Quick Reaction Force" without authorization, he would have "immediately" sent troops to the Capitol after receiving a "frantic call" from then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.

2 hours ago - World

U.S.-Iran nuclear diplomacy is going nowhere fast

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Iran's cool response to the Biden administration's push for diplomatic engagement, along with rising tensions in the region, makes clear that salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal may be far more difficult than many had anticipated.

The state of play: Both the U.S. and Iran have entered the diplomatic dance, but it seems to be moving in circles.