President Trump’s refusal to condemn Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi comes from a $110 billion arms deal that was expanded by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, ABC News reported.
Choosing to add an arms exchange to the already hefty figure was Kushner’s idea of cementing the new alliance between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia, according to two U.S. officials and three former White House officials. It was supported by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, said a former National Security Council official familiar with the matter.
“We need to sell them as much as possible,” Kushner reportedly said in a national security council meeting in May 2017, ahead of a summit in Saudi Arabia, according to an administration official with knowledge of the meeting.
Officials had told Kushner that they had a more realistic deal in the works, worth about $15 billion, another U.S. official said, resulting in some back and forth with officials from the State and Defense departments. The original deal was based on the Saudi government eyeing the pricey THAAD anti-ballistic missile system. Kushner wanted to add more.
The Saudis missed the September deadline to order THAAD, ABC reported.
Kushner reportedly took on the charge of organizing the Saudi summit due to his friendship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA has said ordered the hit on Khashoggi.
The CIA determined that bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi, but Trump denies that was the conclusion, the Washington Post reported.