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Jamal Khashoggi. Photo: Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images

A UN investigator said Wednesday that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi faced a "deliberate, premeditated execution" at the hands of Saudi Arabia in the first independent report on his death, CNN reports.

Why it matters: President Trump and other members of his administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have publicly stood by the Saudis after Khashoggi's death last year, despite the CIA's assessment that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the murder.

  • The investigator, Agnes Callamard of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, did not find a "smoking gun" that explicitly incriminated MBS but said the mission required "significant government coordination, resources and finances" — and recommended a further probe into the crown prince's role.
  • "[E]very expert consulted finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be implemented without the Crown Prince being aware, at a minimum, that some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr. Khashoggi, was being launched."

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir dismissed the UN report, emphasizing the case is under the jurisdiction of the Saudi government: "We firmly reject any attempt to encroach upon the Kingdom’s leadership, and any attempt to divert the case from the course of justice in the Kingdom or influence it in any manner."

Go deeper: Jared Kushner on MBS, refugees, racism and Trump's legacy

Go deeper

3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Patrick Gaspard to leave George Soros' Open Society Foundations

Patrick Gaspard speaks onstage at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Photo: Ernesto Distefano/Getty Images

Patrick Gaspard, who served as ambassador to South Africa under President Barack Obama, is stepping down as president of George Soros' Open Society Foundations, fueling speculation that he'll join the Biden administration, potentially as Labor secretary.

What to know: Before his stint as ambassador, Gaspard was Obama's political director in the White House, drawing upon his experience in the labor movement to advance Obama's legislative agenda on health care and financial services reform.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office.
  2. Health: Coronavirus death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased COVID-19 testing can reduce transmission — Hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Vaccine: What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do — Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take vaccine in public —WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020.