Jared Kushner refuses to say whether Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Mohammed bin Salman

"Once we have all the facts, then we'll make a policy determination," Kushner tells Axios' Jonathan Swan

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 3, 2019 3:39PM (EDT)

Donald Trump; Jamal Khashoggi; Jared Kushner (AP/Evan Vucci/Hasan Jamali/Richard Drew)
Donald Trump; Jamal Khashoggi; Jared Kushner (AP/Evan Vucci/Hasan Jamali/Richard Drew)

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner refused to say whether Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, had ordered a hit on "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a wide-ranging interview with "Axios on HBO."

In his conversation with reporter Jonathan Swan, Kushner also declined to weigh in on whether bin Salman should account for Khashoggi's body. The president's son-in-law said he is awaiting the results of an investigation to determine who is at fault, even though the CIA has reportedly said with a high degree of confidence that blame rests with the Saudi crown prince. The U.S. Senate unanimously placed the blame on bin Salman's shoulders.

"Look, it's a horrific thing that happened," Kushner told Axios when asked if he would join Khashoggi's fiancee in calling for a public release of bin Salman's remains. "Once we have all the facts, then we'll make a policy determination, but that would be up to the secretary of state to push on our policy."

Kushner has developed a close relationship with bin Salman, which along with Trump's own business connections to Saudi Arabia, raises ethical questions about whether there a conflict of interest could be preventing the the two men from condemning the the Middle Easter nation or acknowledging its alleged role in Khashoggi's murder.

As CNN senior political correspondent Manu Raju reported on Sunday, "Trump still won’t blame the Saudi crown prince for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite what his own CIA says. When asked by reporters on the South Lawn, he said: 'When did this come up again? What are you back — are you back — are you back four months ago? No.'"

Another highlight of Kushner's interview with "Axios on HBO" was his response to a question about whether he thought Trump was racist.

"The answer is no — absolutely not," Kushner told Swan. "You can't not be a racist for 69 years, and then run for president and be a racist. And what I'll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they're doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country."

When asked if he shared the Trump administration's views on abortion, Kushner replied, "I’m here to enforce his positions. His position is the one that as a staffer in the White House, we’ll work to push."

He also refused to give a sympathetic answer about the plight of Palestinians in occupied territories when asked about his stances on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"I think there are some things that the current Palestinian government has done well, and there are some things that are lacking," Kushner told "Axios on HBO." "And I do think that in order for the area to be investable, for investors to come in and want to invest in different industries and infrastructure and create jobs, you do need to have a fair judicial system, freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions . . ."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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