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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

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

3 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

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.