Jared Kushner Advised Saudi Crown Prince After Khashoggi Slaying

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, reportedly had private conversations with and gave advice to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the slaying of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to The New York Times.

Kushner offered the Saudi prince advice about “how to weather the storm” following Khashoggi’s death, the Times reported on Saturday.

Kushner, who serves as an adviser on the Middle East, has kept up informal conversations with the Saudi prince since early 2017. Former senior White House officials told the Times that Kushner’s political inexperience could have left him “susceptible to Saudi manipulation” during these private chats.

CNN reported in October that Kushner’s private talks with the Saudi prince concerned national security officials who “worried off-the-books conversations with the young prince could lead to misunderstandings or worse.”

According to USA Today, Khashoggi was killed on October 2nd by Saudi agents at the country’s consulate in Istanbul. Though the administration has played down reported evidence linking the Saudi prince to the killing and has cautioned Congress about taking action against Saudi Arabia, lawmakers say U.S. intelligence reports show that the Saudi prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

“I think he’s complicit to the highest level possible,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said following a CIA briefing last week. “There’s not a smoking gun. There’s a smoking saw,” the senator said in reference to the reported use of a bone saw in the killing.

But according to the Times report, Kushner has become the Saudi prince’s “most important defender inside the White House.” Kushner had urged Trump to support the Saudi prince since the country remains a key part of the administration Middle East policies.

A White House spokesperson told the Times, “Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines regarding the relationship with MBS [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts.”

The White House has acknowledged one instance in which Kushner and National Security Adviser John Bolton called the Saudi prince a week after Khashoggi went missing from the Saudi consulate, CNN reports.

“They asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement at the time.

But Kushner continued to privately talk with the Saudi Prince, and a Saudi source told the Times that Kushner had “offered the crown prince advice about how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve his conflicts around the region and avoid further embarrassments.”

White House officials told the Times, however, that there is nothing unusual about Kushner relationship with the Saudi prince, adding that he has relationships with several key figures in the Middle East. The White House said that representatives from previous administrations also had ties to Saudi officials.