The New York Times Just Released an Eye-Opening Report on Jared Kushner’s Ongoing Chats With the Saudi Crown Prince

That’s the same prince who ordered a journalist’s death.

Kevin Dietsch/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East advisor, has been having informal, private conversations in recent months with Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman while simultaneously defending the prince against charges that he ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a new report from the New York Times.

Kushner’s chats with Prince Mohammed, which took the form of text messages, emails, and phone calls, concerned senior American officials, who attempted to tighten security by reimposing longstanding protocols stipulating that National Security Council members participate in conversations with foreign leaders. Still, the two men—both in their 30s and heirs to family fortunes—kept chatting on a first-name basis, often over WhatsApp.

When American intelligence authorities concluded that Prince Mohammed had ordered the October slaying of Khashoggi, Kushner “became the prince’s most important defender inside the White House,” according to the Times.  

The relationship between the two men was long in the making: When Trump was elected, a delegation of Saudis close to the prince identified Kushner as a key player to court. In a slideshow prepared for the Saudi government, the Saudi delegation reportedly wrote that the inner circle of the incoming Trump administration “is predominantly deal makers who lack familiarity with political customs and deep institutions, and they support Jared Kushner.” The courtship appears to have worked: The Times continues, “Only a few months after Mr. Trump moved into the White House, Mr. Kushner was inquiring about the Saudi royal succession process and whether the United States could influence it, raising fears among senior officials that he sought to help Prince Mohammed, who was not yet the crown prince, vault ahead in the line for the throne.” 

Kushner’s visits to Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, preceded two of Mohammed’s key moves towards consolidating power. The first was in the spring of 2017, when the prince ousted his cousin, putting himself in line for the throne. That fall, Mohammed detained about 200 wealthy Saudis, including many cousins. Foreign policy expert Martin Indyk told the Times that the “bromance” between Kushner and Mohammed had led to US support of controversial Saudi policies, including military intervention in Yemen and support of the kingdom’s feud with Qatar, site of a large American air base.

Since news of Khashoggi’s killing, the Trump administration has acknowledged one conversation between Kushner and Mohammed, which was joined by a national security advisor. But the Times reports, “American officials and a Saudi briefed on their conversations said that Mr. Kushner and Prince Mohammed have continued to chat informally. According to the Saudi, Mr. Kushner has offered the crown prince advice about how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve his conflicts around the region and avoid further embarrassments.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate