Of the very long list of things one could take issue with regarding Jared Kushner’s time in the White House—a list that includes botching the government’s COVID-19 response and doing nothing to stop his father-in-law’s plot to overturn the election—it’s probably his close personal relationship with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman that rankles the most. That largely has to do with the fact that MBS approved the kidnapping and dismemberment of one of his critics—U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi—and rather than have his father-in-law condemn the guy, Kushner reportedly went to bat for him with Donald Trump, which resulted in the prince literally getting away with murder.
Apparently having heard these criticisms, Kushner decided to address them in his new memoir—in which he writes that yeah, chopping a man into pieces is bad, but he wasn’t going to let that overshadow all the good his authoritarian pal had also done.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in Breaking History: A White House Memoir, out on August 23, the former first son-in-law “provides a carefully framed defense of his relationship with Prince Mohammed. Mr. Kushner said he viewed Prince Mohammed as a historic figure who brought once-unimaginable social reforms to Saudi Arabia and steered the kingdom toward a warming relationship with Israel.” In regard to MBS being accused of facilitating Khashoggi’s grisly murder, Kushner writes: “While this situation was terrible, I couldn’t ignore the fact that the reforms that MBS was implementing were having a positive impact on millions of people in the kingdom—especially women. All of these reforms were major priorities for the United States, as they led to further progress in combating extremism and advancing economic opportunity and stability throughout the war-torn region. The kingdom was poised to build on this historic progress, and I believed it would.” In October 2018, about two weeks after Khashoggi was killed, The New York Times reported that Kushner was “urging the president to stand by the prince,” arguing that MBS could “survive the outrage just as he ha[d] weathered past criticism.” Just so it’s completely clear, the “outrage” was over a man being chopped up into pieces.
As the Journal notes, Kushner does not dispute—and his book doesn’t even mention—U.S. intelligence’s conclusion that his princely pal ordered the hit, despite the kingdom’s denials.
Oh, and about that $2 billion investment his private-equity firm received from Saudi Arabia shortly after his time in the White House was over? You know, the one that came against the advisement of the panel that performs due diligence for the Saudis, which concluded that no one in their right mind should give the former first son-in-law a dime but was overridden by the prince himself? Kushner pinkie-swears that had nothing to do with the fact that he treated MBS and company so nicely while working for the U.S. government. A congressional panel is, of course, suspicious—“The American people deserve answers as to whether a top White House official used his office for personal gain and whether the promise of a future payoff for official actions affected U.S. foreign policy under former president Trump,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement—but Kushner has given us his word!
Someone is lying here and we’ll give you one guess who it is…
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