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

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Trump announces new Iran sanctions in effort to maintain international arms embargo

Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump signed an executive order on Monday that would impose sanctions on any person or entity that contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran or is engaged in providing training and financial support related to those weapons.

Why it matters: The executive order is the first step by the Trump administration to put teeth into its claim that international sanctions on Iran were restored over the weekend, one month after the U.S. initiated the "snapback" process under a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Exclusive: Conservative group launches $2M Supreme Court ad

Screengrab of ad, courtesy of Judicial Crisis Network.

The Judicial Crisis Network is launching a $2.2 million ad campaign to put pressure on vulnerable Senate Republicans in battleground states to support a quick confirmation when President Trump announces his Supreme Court nominee.

The big picture: "Follow Precedent," previewed by Axios, is one of the first national and cable television ads to run following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death Friday.

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CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air

CDC Director Robert Redfield. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

The CDC has removed new guidance that acknowledged airborne transmission of the coronavirus, posting in a note on its website that the guidance was only a draft and had been published in error.

Why it matters: The initial update — which was little noticed until a CNN story was published Sunday — had come months after scientists pushed for the agency to acknowledge the disease was transmissible through the air. The CDC previously said that close person-to-person contact was the bigger concern, and the language has been changed back to erase the warning about airborne transmission.