It’s a scandal that won’t elicit near the level of media coverage that any Russia-related story would. An explosive New York Times report over the weekend reveals that President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner sought to advise Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the embattled prince’s political survival in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
The two had warm relations before the murder, however, contacts continued well after the Oct. 2nd murder inside the Istanbul consulate. One Saudi source reported to the Times that Kushner offered “advice about how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve his conflicts around the region and avoid further embarrassments.”
According to the report the two exchanged first name basis chummy texts and calls while circumventing formal White House procedures which guide contacts with foreign leaders. The White House pushed back against this allegation, with a spokesman telling the Times, “Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines regarding the relationship with [the crown prince] and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts.”
Kushner reportedly became a one-man pro-MbS lobbying campaign inside the White House, according to the report:
As the killing set off a firestorm around the world and American intelligence agencies concluded that it was ordered by Prince Mohammed, Mr. Kushner became the prince’s most important defender inside the White House, people familiar with its internal deliberations say.
Mr. Kushner’s support for Prince Mohammed in the moment of crisis is a striking demonstration of a singular bond that has helped draw President Trump into an embrace of Saudi Arabia as one of his most important international allies.
However, it’s clear that Trump appeared an enthusiastic supporter of MbS from the beginning, and has since remained steadfast in standing by the crown prince even as demands grow to create more distance with Riyadh.
The “untouchable” decades-long oil for weapons relationship has always existed at a deeply institutional level, and few should have had any doubt that it would survive something like the Khashoggi scandal, with or without Kushner’s MbS ties.
The NYT report suggests Kusher’s closeness with MbS has helped shape White House policy on everything from the Yemen war,