The Trump administration has long suffered under the weight of the Russia scandal. Due to an array of hidden contacts and attempts at contacts, many feel as though there is reason to believe that the Trump team cooperated with Russia during its rise to power.
A focus on that issue, however, leaves out a whole host of others. Coming into the White House, neither the president nor his closest advisers had any significant experience in public service. At this point, the Trump administration has been in office for barely a year, so it’s not as though anyone in there has accumulated some sort of overwhelming political experience in that short of a time period.
What the president and his allies do have, however, is experience in and connections to the private business world. Both the president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, ceded executive control of their family businesses upon assuming their present positions, but they still maintain a financial connection to the enterprises.
There is a new report out from The Intercept that details just how these connections could be changing the global political landscape.
To be sure, the president and his allies have made a show of conducting foreign policy through such means as the president’s trip overseas early last year. While visiting Saudi Arabia, the president made grand pronouncements against terrorism, calling on other nations to pick up the slack of the counterterrorism fight.
That’s not where the story ends, however. A short time after the president’s trip, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imposed an economic blockade on their neighbor, Qatar. Throughout this crisis, the president and his allies have supported the Saudis, and there may just be a strikingly simple explanation for why that’s so.
In April of 2017, Charles Kushner — father of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser — pleaded with Qatari leadership for an investment in the Kushner family’s building at 666 Fifth Avenue, which has a major mortgage payment coming due. The Qataris turned him down, and it was within months that the Saudis and their allies imposed their blockade, which to the bewilderment of many, the White House supported.
That is, again, not where the story ends however.
In late October, Kushner made what The Intercept describes as an “unannounced” trip to the Saudi capital, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had earlier in the year gotten his brother out of his way to the nation’s throne.
What The Intercept reports about what went down during that trip is stunning:
‘Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown.’
Following Kushner’s visit, the crown prince began to go after individuals claimed to be “corrupt,” imprisoning them in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, where at least one was seemingly tortured to death.
The individuals rounded up included those whose identities Kushner would have had and been able to share with the Crown Prince; in connection to this, the crown prince ‘bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was “in his pocket.”‘
Just like in the case of the blockade, the Trump administration again bewilderingly chose to support the Saudis through their “anti-corruption” crackdown.
In the face of an array of questions about his activities, Kushner recently lost his top secret security clearance — although some questions still remain to be answered.
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