During Donald Trump’s four years in the White House, one of the few times in which Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina showed any independence from him came after the October 2, 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Graham blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s murder, while Trump and then-White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner remained staunch allies of the Saudi leader. And activist/writer Ali Al-Ahmed, in an op-ed published by the Washington Post on April 14, describes the influence that MBS and the Saudi government continue to have on Kushner and other Republicans.
Saudi Arabia, Al-Ahmed notes, recently “ended up giving $2 billion” to Kushner.
According to Al-Ahmed, “Managers of the Saudi Public Investment Fund objected to the investment, citing ‘the inexperience of the Affinity Fund management’ — the firm was founded just last year by Kushner — and other risk factors. But MBS was quick to overrule their objections and ordered the transfer.”
Al-Ahmed notes that “for MBS,” Kushner “represents another powerful domestic proxy to interfere in American politics.”
“The crown prince has not forgiven President Biden for speaking ill of him during the campaign, and now, he is out for blood,” Al-Ahmed explains. “MBS has picked a side and has carefully cultivated ties with Republican leaders and former Trump officials. MBS expects a substantial return for the billions he is showering on Republican figures.”
The Post reporter continues, “Of course, Saudi interference in U.S. elections is not new. Donations made by foreign agents hired to act on behalf of Saudi interests exceeded $1.6 million in the 2018 election cycle, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. But these days, MBS can be even bolder. He is obviously confident that he is immune to any pressure coming from the United States; in fact, he’s confident enough to go on the offensive.”
Biden, according to Al-Ahmed, has reached out to MBS, but the Saudi leader “is responding with contempt.”
“He has not condemned Russia on Ukraine, refused to increase oil production and probably leaked the news of him refusing to take Biden’s call,” Al-Ahmed notes. “A few days ago, a sketch on a state-funded TV station mocked Biden as a sleepy, forgetful old man. The prospect of a dictator using his deep pockets to wield influence at the highest levels of the U.S. political system should be cause for deep concern and targeted action. Not all attacks on American democracy will take the shape of violent insurrections — the corruption of the Saudi-Kushner deal is an attack on democracy, too.”