Kushner defends Saudi prince over Khashoggi murder, Tapper slams him

Jared Kushner, the former senior adviser to ex-President Donald Trump, has praised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his reforms and downplayed his role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. CNN’s Jake Tapper has blasted Kushner for his comments and his ties to the Saudi regime.

Kushner, who was Trump’s son-in-law and point man on Middle East issues, gave an interview to Axios on HBO on Sunday, where he discussed his relationship with the Saudi crown prince, also known as MBS.

Kushner said that he had advised MBS to be transparent about the murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi regime, who was killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Kushner said that MBS had made a mistake, but he also credited him for bringing “a lot of reforms” to Saudi Arabia, such as allowing women to drive, opening cinemas and curtailing the power of the religious police.

Kushner also said that he hoped that the Biden administration would maintain a “good relationship” with MBS, who is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and a key ally of the US in the region.

Tapper’s reaction to Kushner’s comments

Tapper, the anchor of CNN’s The Lead and State of the Union, responded to Kushner’s comments on his show on Monday, where he criticized Kushner for his “whitewashing” of MBS and his involvement in the Khashoggi murder.

Tapper said that Kushner was “still doing this”, referring to his defense of MBS, despite the US intelligence report that concluded that MBS had approved the operation to capture or kill Khashoggi.

Tapper also said that Kushner was “still doing this”, despite the fact that his company, Cadre, had received a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia in 2017, which raised questions about his conflicts of interest and ethics.

Tapper also said that Kushner was “still doing this”, despite the fact that MBS had presided over a brutal crackdown on dissent, human rights and democracy in Saudi Arabia, where he had jailed, tortured and executed activists, journalists, clerics and even members of his own family.

Tapper said that Kushner was “still doing this”, despite the fact that MBS had waged a devastating war in Yemen, where he had bombed civilians, hospitals and schools, and caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

Tapper said that Kushner was “still doing this”, despite the fact that MBS had undermined the US interests and values in the region, where he had supported authoritarian regimes, opposed democratic movements, and inflamed sectarian tensions.

The implications of Kushner’s stance on MBS

Kushner’s stance on MBS reflects the policy of the Trump administration, which had embraced MBS as a strategic partner and a reformer, and had shielded him from accountability and criticism over the Khashoggi murder and other abuses.

The Trump administration had also sold billions of dollars worth of weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia, despite the opposition from Congress and human rights groups. The Trump administration had also backed MBS’s blockade of Qatar, his feud with Iran, and his normalization of ties with Israel.

The Biden administration, however, has taken a different approach to MBS and Saudi Arabia, which has signaled a shift in the US-Saudi relations. The Biden administration has suspended some arms sales to Saudi Arabia, ended the US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and released the intelligence report on the Khashoggi murder, which had been withheld by the Trump administration.

The Biden administration has also said that it will recalibrate the US-Saudi relations, and that it will deal with MBS’s father, King Salman, rather than MBS himself. The Biden administration has also said that it will press Saudi Arabia to respect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

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