President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was reportedly a cause for concern among national security staffers amid investigations into the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi because Kushner was known to have messaged with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on WhatsApp.
A CNN report indicates that the White House senior adviser has been chummy with Mohammed for months, causing him to pull back from the public eye as details emerge about what happened to Khashoggi.
Khashoggi went missing on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and has not been seen in public since. The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that Khashoggi appears to have been drugged, beaten, killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives in the presence of a top Saudi diplomat.
CNN reports that Kushner has been “operating behind-the-scenes to mitigate the fallout” and “quietly leveraging his close relationship” with Mohammed while treading lightly to avoid stepping on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s purview. Since officials expressed concern about Kushner’s conversations and messages with Mohammed outside official channels, Kushner has begun “notifying other members of the President’s team about his conversations and providing readouts afterward.”
Kushner has been to Saudi Arabia many times to speak with the prince, developing such a close relationship that Mohammed “bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was ‘in his pocket,’” according to a report in The Intercept in March.
Kushner and Mohammed met most recently in June to discuss a Middle East peace plan and spoke by phone last week about Khashoggi.
Trump has repeatedly downplayed what happened to Khashoggi and made it clear that he has no intention of ceasing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. As for Kushner’s relationship with Mohammed, a White House spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that Kushner “has always meticulously followed protocols and collaborated with colleagues regarding the relationship with [Crown Prince Mohammed] and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts.”