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Former CIA Director John Brennan told NBC News' Chuck Todd on Sunday that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has been given "increased confidence" by his relationship with the White House, which may explain his alleged action against journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The big picture: The White House is still considering responses to the disappearance and potential murder of Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi Arabia. Trump said there would be "severe punishment" if the kingdom is found to be at fault, but has been vocally opposed to cutting off arms deals. Brennan said Trump is "siding up to authoritarian leaders around the globe ... condemnation of the press that's critical of him, [and] continued dishonesty and denials of reality ... has encouraged MBS to go along this road."

Chief White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow

Kudlow told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is waiting to see what else comes out about Khashoggi, but still plans to attend the Saudi investment conference — despite many other participants pulling out in protest.

"At the moment, he is intending to go because of the importance of the issue of ending terror financing. ... Mr. Mnuchin will make up his mind as the week progresses and as new information surfaces."
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
Senator Marco Rubio

Rubio told CNN's Jake Tapper that Mnuchin should not go to the conference and pretend it's "business as usual," and a weak response from the U.S. could undermine the U.S.' "ability to stand for morality and human rights all over the world."

"I don't think any of our government officials should be going and pretending as it's business as usual, until we know exactly what's happened here."
Senator Bernie Sanders

Sanders, a frequent critic of the U.S.' support of the Saudis in the war in Yemen, also told Tapper there has to be sanctions and a stopping of arms sales.

"We cannot have an ally who murders in cold blood. ... I think one of the strongest things we can do is not only stop military sales, not only put sanctions on Saudi Arabia, but most importantly, get out of this terrible, terrible war in Yemen.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

Driving the news: James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

2 hours ago - World

Putin to demand legal guarantee against NATO expansion in call with Biden

Biden and Putin meeting in Geneva in June. Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not expand east — including to Ukraine — and plans to raise the issue in an upcoming phone call with President Biden, according to the Kremlin.

Why it matters: Russia has massed more than 94,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and could be preparing for a large-scale invasion at the end of January, Ukraine's defense minister said Friday.

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