Kushner downplays Saudi gov’t role in writer’s killing
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said the White House is still gathering facts on journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and wants to preserve the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, downplaying the role of the kingdom’s government in the death.
“I see things that are deceptive every day,” he said Monday at a CNN event in New York after he was asked if the Saudi government had been deceptive about Khashoggi’s death in its Istanbul consulate. “I see them in the Middle East, I see them in Washington.”
“We have our eyes wide open,” he added.
Kushner has developed a personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who some Republican senators have said is responsible, directly or not, for Khashoggi’s death. The Saudis admitted late Friday that the dissident writer had died after what they said was a fight within the consulate, where he sought to obtain a document related to his planned wedding.
Kushner said he had advised Prince Mohammed to be “transparent” about the incident. Asked whether the administration is reassessing the crown prince as an ally, Kushner said that “once we have all the facts then we’ll make an assessment.”
“Right now as an administration we’re more in the fact-finding phase and we’re obviously getting as many facts as we can from the different places,” Kushner said. “We have to be able to work with our allies, and Saudi Arabia has I think been a very strong ally.”
He said the kingdom has helped the U.S. combat Iranian influence in the Mideast. Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in what amounts to a proxy war in Yemen, where they are supporting opposing sides in a bloody civil war. The kingdom has come under criticism for civilian deaths from its bombing campaign in the country.