Sen. Lindsey Graham after being briefed by CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senators left a briefing with CIA director Gina Haspel on Tuesday confident in taking action against Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: Lawmakers have been grappling with conflicting information from the CIA and the administration regarding the murder, with the CIA's assessment placing blame on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), and the administration deflecting such blame in an effort to preserve what they see as a crucially important partnership.

What to watch: The Senate has been working on legislation from Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy that would pull support from the Saudis in Yemen, which is expected to be debated this week after the Senate voted to advance it last week.

What they're saying

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he plans to push for a Senate vote to designate MBS as complicit in the murder of Khashoggi and put "Saudi Arabia on notice that business as usual has come to an end for me." Graham explained, however, that he does not plan to vote for the Sanders' Yemen legislation.

"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw. ... I will not support arms sales until all responsible for the death of Mr. Khashoggi have been brought to justice, and I will no longer support the war for Yemen as constructed."

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who originally voted against the Yemen legislation in March:

"I am now more convinced than I was before ... that in fact the United States must have a strong response to both the war in Yemen, as well as the killing of a United States permanent resident and journalist in Jamal Khashoggi."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who decided last week he would vote to advance the Yemen resolution, said there are "complications" with it, but that some kind of action has to be taken:

“If he [MBS] was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes, guilty. ... This has got to be strongly condemned by the administration...I know that they have to have the exactly same intelligence that we have and there's no way that anybody with a straight face could say there's any question about what has happened. ... I think the message to them is, 'Look this is something we can get away with. The greatest country on Earth and it's leader has said it's okay to get away with this.'"

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 32,471,119 — Total deaths: 987,593 — Total recoveries: 22,374,557Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 7,032,524 — Total deaths: 203,657 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Trump prepares to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court replacement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.