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Pompeo refuses to answer why Gina Haspel didn't appear at Saudi Arabia briefing

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deflected questions Wednesday about why CIA director Gina Haspel did not appear at a Senate briefing on military aid to Saudi Arabia, and claimed that there is "no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi."

The big picture: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters that Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, who also appeared before the Senate, explained in the briefing that Haspel's absence was "a decision by the White House." Haspel was dispatched to Turkey following the death of Khashoggi and has reportedly heard an audio recording of the murder.

Update: CIA Press Secretary Timothy Barrett told NBC News, "The notion that anyone told Director Haspel not to attend today's briefing is false."

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