Kushner, Pelosi Discuss MBS, Journalist Khashoggi’s Death Amid Uproar

Administration has ‘eyes wide open’ but seeks to maintain relations, Kushner says

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in the spotlight after the killing of a Saudi journalist. (Leon Neal/Getty Images file photo)
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in the spotlight after the killing of a Saudi journalist. (Leon Neal/Getty Images file photo)
Posted October 22, 2018 at 11:17am

The Trump administration has “its eyes wide open” about what happened to a dead Washington Post columnist who was killed inside a Saudi diplomatic facility in Turkey, White House adviser Jared Kushner said Monday.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law also said he personally told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to “just to be transparent” about allegations his government ordered Saudi-born and self-exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi killed inside its Istanbul consulate.

Kushner told a CNN-sponsored forum that he advised the crown prince, popularly known by his initials MBS, to take the allegations and Khashoggi’s disappearance and death “very seriously.”

Republican and Democratic lawmakers continue pressing Trump and his administration to punish Prince Mohammed and Saudi Arabia via sanctions or other moves for luring the columnist, who had criticized the crown prince, to Turkey and then allegedly killing and dismembering his body.

At the same CNN forum Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she doesn’t believe Saudi Arabia’s explanation that Khashoggi was killed during an escalation of a fistfight.

“They showed up with a bone saw,” the California Democrat said.

Asked if there was any question in her mind that Prince Mohammed was involved, Pelosi said, “Everybody has a question. The question is how much degree of separation can they have.”

“[In] the kingdom, nothing happens without their knowledge,” she said.

She also questioned why they felt a need to defend MBS, saying, “What’s so important about this prince? It’s a big family.”

Pelosi also criticized the Trump administration for continuously saying it needed more facts, saying its response showed it was “against freedom of the press, against foreign powers” and made it “look kind of silly.”

“It’s an embarrassment,” she said.

For example, Pelosi suggested that the Trump administration was using Iran as an excuse for needing to keep up relations with Saudi Arabia when there were many other reasons the administration wants to deal with the kingdom.

“Saudi Arabia has its own reasons to be contending with Iran, having nothing to do with President Trump,” she said.

Prince Mohammed’s government issued a statement late last week confirming Khashoggi died inside the Istanbul consulate but contending that his death was caused by a fistfight that started after an argument. Trump has continued to give MBS cover, saying he has yet to be convinced the crown prince ordered the killing.

Trump, Kushner and other administration officials say it is important for Washington to maintain relations with Saudi Arabia, especially as it seeks to squeeze Iran and salvage a stalled Middle East peace process.

Watch: House GOP Candidates Are Shying Away From Trump as Midterm Nears

Loading the player...

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.