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Opening the door a crack: A man enters Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul yesterday. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

A well-wired Republican texts me the reason President Trump is buying the Saudis' story: "Constraining Iran is the priority and Saudi is a critical ally in that effort. That 'trumps' the horrible human rights violation."

Here's how the Saudis last night began trying to defuse the international crisis: "The Saudi government acknowledged early Saturday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, saying he died during a fistfight," the WashPost reports from Riyadh.

  • "[T]he new account may do little to ease international demands for the kingdom to be held accountable."
  • "The Saudi government said it fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation. Those fired included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri."

Reuters notes: "Saudi Arabia provided no evidence to support its account of the circumstances that led to Khashoggi’s death."

  • Be smart, from BBC: "There can only be one of two possible alternatives here: either — as many suspect — the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was to blame or he had lost control of his inner circle, something most observers find hard to believe."

In Arizona last night, Trump called Saudi Arabia's announcement a "good first step" and said he would work with Congress on a U.S. response, per AP:

  • Asked by a reporter whether he thought Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death was credible, Trump said, "I do. I do." But he said before he decided what to do next, he wanted to talk to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Go deeper: Turkish official says evidence of Khashoggi's killing will be released

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Go deeper

Schumer: Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

Why it matters: Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice for “incitement of insurrection" after a violent pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths.

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CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

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Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.