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Kushner backs Prince Salman

Kushner backs Prince Salman

Ever since the CIA presented irrefutable evidence of the involvement of the Saudi Crown Prince in the ghastly murder of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, the role and attitude of the US President has been getting more and more curious. First, he warned there would be serious consequences if there was any guilt. The next day, he made it clear that Saudi purchases and contribution to the US economy mattered more. The report of the CIA Director cut no ice. But the Senators were infuriated. Now, it transpires that the President's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, continued to have private conversations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the murder. Kushner offered the de facto Saudi ruler advice "about how to weather the storm" following the death of Khashoggi, the New York Times reported, citing a Saudi source familiar with the conversations. Although White House protocol stipulated that National Security Council staff be present on all phone calls with foreign leaders, Kushner and bin Salman continued to chat informally after Khashoggi's death. A White House spokesman said, "Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines regarding the relationship with MBS and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts," referring to the crown prince by his initials. White House officials declined to explain those protocols and guidelines or to comment on Kushner's one-on-one communications with bin Salman since the killing of Khashoggi. Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton had called bin Salman nearly a week after Khashoggi went missing from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and amid an investigation into the journalist's disappearance. Initially claiming no involvement, the Saudis later admitted that a team of rogue operatives had murdered Khashoggi inside the consulate. The CIA assessed in November that the crown prince had personally ordered the killing of the journalist. The Saudi government has denied bin Salman's involvement. Even after CIA's assessment, Kushner emerged as bin Salman's most important defender, arguing that Trump needs to support the crown prince because the Saudis remain a key component in the Trump administration's policy. Trump and the State Department have maintained that the US government has not reached a final conclusion about who is responsible for Khashoggi's death. Kushner operated behind the scenes to mitigate the fallout from Khashoggi's death and left public explanations to others, intentionally remaining in the background that week. According to sources, Kushner was quietly leveraging his close relationship with bin Salman throughout the fallout when asked and retreating to the sidelines when necessary. Be that as it may, this "murder most foul" will haunt both Trump and his administration for some time to come. And, the Senators are not amused.

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