Kushner stands by Saudi ties amid Khashoggi controversy

Jared Kushner, the former White House adviser and son-in-law of Donald Trump, has defended his business dealings with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was accused of ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Kushner, who left the government in 2021, started a private equity firm that received a reported $2 billion investment from the sovereign wealth fund controlled by the crown prince, also known as MBS. This raised questions from Democrats and human rights activists about Kushner’s potential conflict of interest and influence over U.S. foreign policy.

However, Kushner dismissed these concerns and said he followed every law and ethics rule. He also claimed that he did not make any decision in the White House that was not in the interest of America.

“If you ask me about the work that that we did in the White House, for my critics, what I say is point to a single decision we made that wasn’t in the interest of America,” Kushner said at a summit in Miami on Tuesday sponsored by media company Axios.

Kushner praises MBS as a visionary leader

Kushner, who worked on a wide range of issues and policies in the Trump administration, including Middle East peace efforts, developed a close relationship with MBS, who has overseen social and economic reforms and a far-reaching crackdown on dissent in the kingdom.

Kushner praised MBS as a visionary leader and said he knew the person he dealt with. He also questioned the credibility of the U.S. intelligence report released in 2021 that concluded MBS likely approved Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“Are we really still doing this?” Kushner said when he was asked if he believed the findings from U.S. intelligence. He said he had not seen the report and added, “I think what he’s done in that region is transformational.”

Kushner defends Trump’s policies and Biden’s shift

Kushner also defended the Trump administration’s policies towards Saudi Arabia and said it was one of the greatest compliments that President Joe Biden backed away from his initial stance to shun Saudis for human rights violations to instead work with MBS on issues like oil production and security in the region.

“I understand why people, you know, are upset about that,” Kushner said of Khashoggi’s killing. He argued that the U.S. had to balance its values and interests and that Saudi Arabia was an important ally in countering Iran and terrorism.

Kushner also said he was proud of the Abraham Accords, the historic agreements that normalized relations between Israel and several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. He said these deals were possible because of the trust and respect that Trump and MBS had for each other.

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