COMMENTARY

Nobody cares about Jared: How long can Kushner get away with it?

Just as there are no repercussions for Donald Trump running his business out of the White House

By Heather Digby Parton

Published April 25, 2022 9:59AM (EDT)

Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

There's a lot going on in the world these days, but I have to say that I'm disappointed that there isn't more attention being paid to the revelation that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner made a deal with the Saudi Arabian government for what looks very much like a straight-up payoff for services rendered during the Trump administration.

I'm hardpressed to think of another example of alleged corruption more serious or more threatening to the stability of the world. After all, right now the U.S. government is trying very hard to get the Saudis to cooperate with the rest of the world to keep oil prices in check during this crisis in Ukraine but it's pretty obvious that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salmon (MBS), Kushner's bosom buddy during Trump's four years in office, is instead banking on Trump's return and refusing to help. 

Kushner was instrumental in the ascension of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salmon (MBS)

The New York Times reported the story of Kushner's big deal a couple of weeks ago. A major wealth fund backed by the Saudi government invested $2 billion in Kushner's new "venture-capital" company called Affinity Partners. Now you may recall that Jared Kushner's experience before going to the White House consisted of some bad real estate deals and running a small newspaper in New York City. The rest of the financial world recognizes this and has not jumped at the chance to partner with Kushner on the project and it's reasonable to assume that many investors are reluctant to sign on with both the man who had a famous journalist dismembered in the Saudi embassy and the corrupt Trump family. That's a lot to swallow even for cynical, self-interested greedheads, especially since there is every reason to believe they will lose money in the process. Where's the upside? It's hard to imagine that the Saudi Crown Prince is any more naive about Kushner's business acumen, which leads to a lot of speculation that this is payment for services rendered and an investment in a future Trump presidency. Nobody was a better friend to MBS than Jared Kushner and there's evidence that Jared delivered handsomely. He would almost certainly come through again.

RELATED: Jared Kushner's Saudi payday: $2 billion deal with prince came months after exiting White House

First of all, recall that the very first trip Trump took overseas was that very weird, over-the-top adventure to the Middle East in early 2017 where they did the sword dance and all put their hands on a white orb for inexplicable reasons. It was pretty clear that Trump had his eye on that big pile of Saudi money from the very beginning. But it was Kushner who made it into his own special project. From the beginning there was lots of talk about the two young Turks, Kush and MBS, chewing the fat late into the night, exchanging private mash notes on WhatsApp and basically spending a lot of quality bro time together. In 2018, the Intercept reported that MBS touted his close relationship with Kushner, revealing that Jared had shared classified information with him about Saudis who were disloyal to him. He was quoted as saying that Kushner was "in his pocket."

According to text messages obtained by investigative journalist Vicky Ward, author of the book "Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. the Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump", Kushner specifically shared intelligence with MBS about the previous Saudi ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was close to the CIA and was concerned about the ambitions of MBS. Ward reported that this information was used by MBS to strike against the crown prince. He was arrested and imprisoned. No one has heard from the crown prince in two years. Ward claims this was the reason Kushner was repeatedly denied a security clearance. If true, Kushner was instrumental in the ascension of MBS. Later, Kushner did him another solid by running interference for him over the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, ensuring that President Trump would let it go despite a global outcry.

MBS was good to the administration in return. When Trump asked him to raise oil production in 2018 he did it and when they asked him to decrease it in 2020, he did that as well, in stark contrast to how they are responding to the Biden administration's entreaties to raise oil production during this Ukraine crisis.

MBS was good to the administration in return.

Meanwhile, Kushner has been bragging about his experience cutting deals with Saudi Arabia and Russia to entice other prospective investors to contribute to his "fund." This report from Josh Marshall reveals that MBS is hosting lavish conf-fabs with power players in the investment world in recent days --- and Jared is seated next to the Crown Prince at every event:

My interlocutor had never seen anything like it. Sitting next to the ruler on a single night would be a career maker even for your average billionaire. But there Jared was every night — even for the private few-attendees dinner, apparently. The message seemed crystal clear and bold: Jared is my guy. In fact, he's my number one, number two and number three guy.

That would just be plain weird if it weren't for the fact that Trump is running again.

According to The Intercept, which broke the story about Kushner's touting his connections to the Saudis, even Wall Street players were a little shocked by the blatant corruption:

A source in contact with multiple U.S. investors approached by Affinity said the investors were not attracted by the presentation and described their shock at how cavalierly it seemed to suggest influence peddling, a "value add" often handled with more subtlety in the investment world. "They said they'd never seen such a joke of a deck, openly talking about 'networking' and 'networks' — i.e., our corrupt insider contacts," the source said on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions. "They're bragging about 'networks,' they're using cliches, with no serious investment discussion."

This is beyond corrupt. Vast sums of money are changing hands and the Saudis are actually manipulating the world oil market in order to sabotage Joe Biden's administration and help set the table for Trump's second term. And yet, we have heard far more about Hunter Biden's laptop and Hillary Clinton's email server than we will ever hear about Jared Kushner's sweetheart deal with his Saudi bro.

Just as there are no repercussions for Trump running his business out of the White House and doing pay-to-play every weekend at his resorts and 24/7 bribery and influence peddling at the Trump Hotel in DC. And as Don Jr. and Eric Trump traveled all over the world doing deals while their father was president. They didn't even wink and nod about what they were really selling. The corruption was massive. And there is nothing but sighs and shrugs among the mainstream media which dutifully reports it and that's the last you ever hear of it.

By contrast, here is what you get if you are following right-wing media:


Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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Commentary Corruption Jared Kushner Media Criticism Right-wing Media