Donald Trump's son-in-law/adviser Jared Kushner promoted his relationship with the Saudis as the linchpin in his unconventional Middle East peace plan — but it may result in his ouster.
Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman reported that according to multiple Republicans briefed on internal White House deliberations, Kushner's glowing endorsement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has taken multiple hits, but his alleged involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi may be the final nail in its coffin.
The first warning sign, Sherman reported, came in October 2017 about a week after Kushner and MBS held a secret meeting.
MBS "launched a brutal crackdown, locking up Saudi billionaires in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton until they signed over billions to the government," the report noted.
As the alleged torture on the crown prince's orders garnered international headlines, "Trump’s national security team became alarmed" — and even reached out to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who urged them to give MBS a chance because "none of these guys are perfect."
Kushner, the report noted, had private WhatsApp chats with MBS — a fact that troubled Defense Secretary James Mattis, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
“McMaster was especially unhappy Jared was involved in the Mideast," a former national security council member recalled. "I remember McMaster yelling about the WhatsApp conversations and he kept saying, ‘What’s WhatsApp?’”
If the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton fiasco was a blip in the radar of Kushner's standing in the White House, however, the alleged Khashoggi assassination is a canary in the coal mine.
Mira Ricardel, deputy to national security adviser John Bolton, reportedly remarked to colleagues that "Jared is out of his league" with MBS in the wake of the journalist's heavily-covered murder.
His future in the administration is so regularly discussed that it's become a running gaffe in the West Wing.
"A joke in the West Wing has been that Kushner—who has a well-documented habit of departing Washington at fortuitous times—will soon be heading to Colorado for a ski vacation," the report noted.
“Jared went from running point on the Mideast to running,” a former official told Sherman.
Jokes aside, the MBS controversy is, according to the reporter, only just beginning.
“This is not going to blow over,” a former official told Vanity Fair.