Now we know why John Bolton refused to listen to the tapes, he can mischaracterize what happened without crossing the legal line for perjury:
The White House has denied preventing the CIA director, Gina Haspel, from briefing the Senate on the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.
The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the defence secretary, James Mattis, are due to give a briefing on US relations with Saudi Arabia to the entire Senate behind closed doors on Wednesday, ahead of a vote that could cut off US support for Riyadh’s military campaign in Yemen.
On a national security issue of such importance, it would be customary for a senior intelligence official to take part, Senate staffers said. On this occasion, the absence of the intelligence community is all the more glaring, as Haspel travelled to Istanbul to hear audio tapes of Khashoggi’s murder provided by Turkish intelligence, and then briefed Donald Trump.
Senior senators – including the chairman of the foreign relations committee, Bob Corker – have called for Haspel to appear, but there was no sign on Tuesday evening that she will take part.
Officials said that the decision for Haspel not to appear in front of the committee came from the White House, but the national security adviser, John Bolton, denied it. “Certainly not,” he told reporters, but left it unclear why there would be no intelligence presence.
Bruce Riedel, a veteran CIA official and an expert on the US-Saudi relationship at the Brookings Institution, said: “Gina [Haspel] has been the case officer on this. She traveled to Turkey and she is the one who listened to the tapes and is reported to have briefed the president multiple times.
“This is further evidence that the White House is trying to outdo the Saudis in carrying out the worst cover-up in modern history,” Riedel added.
An incompetent coverup?