How Trump, Kushner covered up Kashoggi's murder and got rewarded - opinion

Jared Kushner’s book does not have a title yet but look for something like “How I defeated the pandemic, brought peace to the Middle East and saved the world.”

 THEN-US PRESIDENT Donald Trump, flanked by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, meets with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh in 2017. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)
THEN-US PRESIDENT Donald Trump, flanked by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, meets with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh in 2017.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)

Crime pays. If you have the right connections. Like when you do a very big favor for a very bad guy. There comes a time to collect the ‘IOU.’

Just say your friend had someone killed. Not just killed but dismembered and disposed of, so the parts would never be found. He’s also very rich and if you help him now, he can repay you later. Like when you decide to start a new business of your own.

You were fingered long before you ever met the guy. His scouts saw you as a comer, one who could be useful someday. Little did either one of you know.

That neatly describes a process that began – with huge consequences for the United States – in late 2016 when Saudi scouts spotted then president-elect Donald Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner, and saw him as a likely conduit to the new White House. His lack of experience and knowledge about the region coupled with his unbridled ambition made him a very attractive recruit. That’s what Saudi and United Arab Emirates officials reported back home after meeting him shortly following the election. He proved to be a willing, even anxious player.

His father-in-law had an affinity for the oil sheikhs, their wealth, autocratic rule, lavish lifestyles, nepotism, greed and contempt for the media, which played out tragically for the nation, but to Kushner’s benefit.

US President's senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks as US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien stands next to him upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. (credit: WAM/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)US President's senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks as US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien stands next to him upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. (credit: WAM/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Kushner, who held multiple portfolios in areas where he was devoid of experience or expertise, was most interested in the Middle East, having a longstanding affinity for Israel. So much so, that his father-in-law, who has a penchant for antisemitic tropes, would later say he thought Kushner, a modern-Orthodox Jew, was “more loyal to Israel than the United States,” according to Peril, a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

Kushner soon became fast friends with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), exchanging back-channel communications on WhatsApp and other unsecured media, bypassing security protocols about monitoring and keeping records on conversations with foreign leaders. He kept the State Department and National Security Council outside his loop, where officials feared he was running a shadow foreign policy possibly tied to his present and future business interests, according to media reports.

Kushner soon arranged a formal White House lunch for MBS to meet the president. Together they convinced him to make the kingdom the first stop on his initial foreign trip as president, where he got a lavish reception befitting the emperor of Mar-a-Lago.

MBS reportedly boasted early on to another Arab prince that he had Kushner “in his pocket,” according to The Intercept.

When dissident US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018, and did not come out alive, fingers began pointing towards MBS. The prince sought damage control advice from his friend Jared, who had been dubbed the crown prince of the new administration.

Kushner’s advice may have resembled Roy Cohn’s advice to his father-in-law: deny everything, admit nothing.

The White House ran interference for the prince. When the CIA fingered MBS for the murder, Kushner brushed it off. He told Newsweek his friend Mohammed had made “a couple of missteps” but was still a “very good ally.”

After seeing the unedited intelligence report in 2018, former senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters: “If the crown prince went in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes,” Middle East Monitor reported.

By the president’s admission, the White House engineered a successful cover-up. The president boasted to Woodward, “I saved his ass. I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.”

That rescue wasn’t free. Shortly afterwards the Saudis agreed to several policy moves and to purchase several billion in new weapons and technology; the administration bypassed the congressional arms review process and vetoed several bills critical of the kingdom.

The sales produced a lot of bragging rights for the man in the Oval Office, but few actual contracts or new policies actually materialized.

Now it seems like it is time to collect.

Kushner has launched a Miami-based investment firm called Affinity Partners, according to multiple media reports, and is believed to be looking for investors.

The journalism studio Project Brazen reports Kushner is trying to get the Saudis to put up $2 billion in seed money. It would come from the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which just happens to be controlled by his homicidal pal, the crown prince.

MBS owes Kushner and the former administration big time, or at least they think he does. Others will also be cashing in like former treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin.  Mnuchin recently got $2.5b. from the Saudis and other Middle East countries for his own private investment firm, Liberty Strategic Capital, The New York Times reported.

Kushner’s crowning achievement is the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and four Arab countries, notably the UAE, and he has established the Abraham Accords Institute for Peace to promote tourism and trade among those countries. That’s alongside seeking investments in his own business enterprises, notably from the Emirates.

Kushner has signed a book deal with Harper Collins for an undisclosed amount. The book is expected next spring; his father-in-law is reportedly miffed because publishers are reluctant to publish a presidential memoir that cannot survive the fact-checkers.

Kushner’s book does not have a title yet but look for something like “How I defeated the pandemic, brought peace to the Middle East and saved the world.”