Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, repeatedly had private conversations with Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including after the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite concerns from senior administration officials, according to The New York Times. Kushner’s chats with the Saudi leader prompted serious concerns among senior American officials who thought that his inexperience with foreign policy could put him at risk for Saudi manipulation. While a top administration tried to reinstate longstanding policies requiring that National Security Council staffers participate in every call with foreign leaders, Kushner and the prince kept calling and texting one another, the report claims. These first-name-basis exchanges continued following the grisly killing of Khashoggi on Oct. 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Following the CIA’s report that bin Salman ordered the murder, Kushner “became the prince’s most important defender inside the White House,” the Times said, citing sources familiar with internal discussions. Bin Salman and his aides plotted their courtship of Kushner for more than two years, and documents reveal that Saudi officials picked him as integral to firming up the Kingdom’s ties to Trump’s administration. One foreign policy expert told the Times this “bromance” fostered U.S. support of controversial Saudi policies, such as military intervention in Yemen.
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