Jared Kushner May Have Helped the Saudi Prince Carry Out a Purge of His Political Opponents


Jared Kushner is having another one of his famously shitty weeks.

On the same day that the New York City Department of Buildings announced it was investigating the Kushner real estate empire for falsifying paperwork so it could be a more efficient slumlord, The Intercept dropped a new story alleging that Kushner might have tipped off Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about powerful Saudis who were disloyal to him right before MBS carried out an “anti-corruption” purge in November (emphasis mine):

In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. “The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported at the time.
What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so.
On November 4, a week after Kushner returned to the U.S., the crown prince, known in official Washington by his initials MBS, launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown. The Saudi government arrested dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoned them in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, which was first reported in English by The Intercept. The Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief were among those rounded up; at least one was reportedly tortured.

Where did Kushner find that information, you ask? Probably in the Presidential Daily Briefings, which The Intercept notes Kushner was a “voracious reader” of until he was stripped of his security clearance in February:

In June, Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin, then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and took his place as next in line to the throne, upending the established line of succession. In the months that followed, the President’s Daily Brief contained information on Saudi Arabia’s evolving political situation, including a handful of names of royal family members opposed to the crown prince’s power grab, according to the former White House official and two U.S. government officials with knowledge of the report. Like many others interviewed for this story, they declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about sensitive matters to the press.

It’s possible, as The Intercept notes, that bin Salman knew the information already or could be lying. But given the nonsense that comes out of the Trump administration on a daily basis, would it really surprise anyone if Kushner—who has frustrated all of the advisers Trump is canning by “freelancing” U.S. foreign policy, according to a recent Washington Post report—was vomiting up U.S. intelligence in an effort to impress the heir to the Saudi throne?

The Intercept wrote that Kushner has grown so close with bin Salman and United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed that he “communicates with them directly” using WhatsApp, and that MBS has privately told his Emirati counterpart and others that Kushner is “in his pocket.” You gotta cut toxic people who don’t appreciate you out of your life, Jared.

There’s one final weird aspect to this story: When The Intercept reached out to the White House for comment, it redirected questions to the National Security Council, which declined to comment and referred questions on Kushner’s conversations with bin Salman to Kushner’s personal attorney, Abbe Lowell, whose spokesperson called The Intercept’s reporting “ridiculous.”

We reached out to both the White House and Lowell for comment on The Intercept piece, and to ask if they could answer why questions involving his role as a representative of the government were referred to a private attorney. We’ll update if we get a response.

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