The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

The Trump-Kushner-Saudi Connection

The Washington Post has a long article by Michael Kranish about the business dealings between Trump and Jared Kushner and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (no paywall).

The substantial investments by the Saudis in enterprises that benefited both men came after they cultivated close ties with Mohammed while Trump was in office — helping the crown prince’s standing by scheduling Trump’s first presidential trip to Saudi Arabia, backing him amid numerous international crises and meeting with him repeatedly in D.C. and the kingdom, including on a final trip Kushner took to Saudi Arabia on the eve of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

New details about their relationship have emerged in recently published memoirs, as well as accounts in congressional testimony and interviews by The Post with former senior White House officials.Those revelations include Kushner’s writtenaccount of persuading Trumpto prioritize Saudi Arabia over the objections of top advisers and a former secretary of state’s assertion in a book that Trump believed the prince “owed” him.

They also underscore the crucial nature of Trump’s admission that he “saved” Mohammed in the wake of the CIA’s finding that the crown prince ordered the killing or capture of Post contributing opinion columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Did Trump and his son-in-law use the office of the presidency to enrich themselves vis-à-vis MBS? Hell, yes they did. We probably don’t yet know the full extent of it.

Now, with Trump running for president again, some national security experts and two former White House officials say they have concerns that Trump and Kushner used their offices to set themselves up to profit from their relationship with the Saudis after the administration ended.

“I think it was an obvious opportunity for them to build their Rolodexes,” John Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser, said in an interview. “And I think they were probably hard at work at it, particularly Jared.”

“Why should Jared be worried about the Middle East?” Bolton said. “It’s a perfectly logical inference was that had something to do with business.”

At CNN, Dean Obeidallah points to the House Congressional committee investigating Hunter Biden and his laptop. This is chaired by James Comer (R-KY).

Comer, a Kentucky Republican, alleged in a letter last week to Hunter Biden that he and his associates “peddled influence to generate millions of dollars for the Biden family.” He declared in his committee’s press release touting the investigation, “The American people deserve transparency and accountability about the Biden family’s influence peddling.”

If Comer is sincere about transparency and accountability when it comes to influence peddling in politics, then he should be readying similar letters to Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump. All three may have personally profited from their time in the White House.

It may very well be that Hunter Biden is guilty of trading on his relationship with his father to make money. But Hunter Biden has never had a position in the U.S. government, and so far nobody has come up with a connection to Joe Biden. I’m fine with the criminal justice system investigating Hunter Biden, and if someone does learn that Joe Biden somehow inappropriately used U.S. government resources to help his son, then let’s hear about it. But until such a connection is found, this isn’t the business of a congressional committee.

The Trumps (including Jared Kushner), on the other hand, were operatives of the Trump administration and supposedly on U.S. government business when they were cultivating the Saudis to make money. That’s a whole different thing. Back to CNN:

Now we see Trump hosting Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournaments at his golf courses — which typically pay the course owner in the case of PGA events $2 million to $3 million, as the Post reported. However, Trump has not revealed how much he’s pocketing from the Saudis — which is especially alarming given he is running for President in 2024.

The Trump Organization also has recently secured an agreement with a Saudi real estate company that plans to build a Trump-branded hotel, villas and golf course in Oman as part of a $4 billion project, according to The New York Times.

Then there’s Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who was also a White House adviser. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, urged the Justice Department to investigate her four years ago over potentially violating conflict of interest laws by participating in the implementation of a program giving tax breaks for investors in so-called opportunity zones. (A spokesperson for Trump’s ethics attorney called the claim “politically motivated and meritless.”)

CREW also had raised concerns over Ivanka Trump’s business receiving “registration” approval for trademarks from the Chinese government in 2018 around the time that her father lifted sanctions on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE — whose controlling shareholder is a Chinese state-owned corporation.

None of this is news to most of you, I bet. All of this and more was reported in most major newspapers at the time. But it wasn’t endlessly harped on by bobbleheads on television news, so most Americans probably never heard about it. Well, they need to hear about it now. You want whataboutism, television news media? How about for every minute covering Hunter Biden investigations you give equal time to what Trump and Kushner did. I’m still not seeing anywhere close to equal time, mostly because the Democrats aren’t pushing the Kushner-Trump-MBS story as much as the Republicans are pushing the Hunter Biden story. But from now on James Comer shouldn’t be allowed to so much as walk his dog without reporters asking him when he’s going to hold hearings on the Trumps.

3 thoughts on “The Trump-Kushner-Saudi Connection

  1. I guess Hunter's dick-pics "trump" REAL corruption by tRUMP, his son-in-law, and his daughter (and daddy's prime love interest:  YEEEEEW!!!!!).

    Personally, I had hoped that in the past couple of years the D's would spare a few non-Jan 6th Commission folks to look into Jared's $2 BILLION Saudi windfall. 

    I bet a few Saudi billionaires might have spoken to our Congress, since they were adamantly against giving Jared that much moolah!  (Speaking off the record, of course.  No one want to be put back together after MBS uses a jigsaw on you to turn you into a bloody human jigsaw puzzle!).

    And now, LIV is paying Donnie a couple of million bucks a tournament to host their idiotic golf tour.

    The old saying once again proves true:  The rich get richer.

  2. Politics in the US isn't supposed to be a hustle. Trump didn't invent crooked politics and he certainly didn't perfect it. (He's getting caught and under the gun in court.) The pros in Congress from both sides of the aisle made 'public service' a bad joke decades ago.

    I devoted a lot of words in my book to describe the way(s) members of Congress get rich at the game. I had a conversation with a friendly Democratic congresswoman about my 120-day sentence which was about to start. I understood her perfectly when she emphasized that her kind of reform is complete transparency. Translation: "We Democrats need to take the money from our donor class. But we're willing to be honest about how much we are taking and who from." My idea of reform is a wall of separation between our government and big money.

    The other aspect I advocate is the imposition of a blind trust on every member of Congress. (I mean blind – not peek-a-boo.) They would not know how their vote will affect their portfolio, nor could they direct how the firm with control will invest or divest. There's only a handful of Democrats and even fewer Republicans who would buy into real reform – the kind that means "public service"  is just that – and not a hustle. 

    We've cynically accepted that (with rare exceptions) "They're all crooks!" I emphasize the word "accepted." That's the worst part and it enables the game to continue as it is BECAUSE we are not outraged. Not only are we OK about Trump and Jarrad cashing in, but a lot of Democrats will defend Hunter because what Hunter did was only sleazy but legal. Cashing in on Daddy's name with the implicit hint that maybe you can influence something is what Hunter did. Joe didn't.

    Do your homework, which damn few journalists do. When Joe Biden retired from Congress, his net worth was under a million after decades of public service. He knew HOW to play the game and stay just inside the law, but he never tried to cash in. Joe's net worth is up there now – he did the money stuff AFTER he thought he was out of politics. I'm personally convinced Joe is a straight shooter. I wish Joe  Biden could say that what Hunter did with Burisma SHOULD be illegal and WAS totally unethical. But Joe can't prevent his adult son from taking easy money. The law should, when it looks like influence peddling. Democrats will get beat up by defending what is wrong (because it's Hunter Biden) instead of drafting a law that closes the loophole on that kind of bribery. (Other kids of powerful members of Congress cash in. It's your guess whether it's benign or actual bribery. Also, the spouse(s) of the USSC are on the take – legally. 

    Before you say you can't limit the employment of free people, look up the non-compete clause. In exchange for accepting the job, you are barred from accepting similar employment from a competitor. It's been upheld by the courts because it's more important to protect the trade secrets and inside information of the first employer. The non-compete clause sucks, but if you apply the reasoning to 'We The People" as the first employer, we have the most critical interest in keeping the public servants in the service of the public. Yes, we might intrude on the "rights" of immediate family in order to prevent the appearance of impropriety but at the moment almost every citizen left and right knows we're getting sloppy seconds after big business gets what they want from Congress.

    I agree with the post as Maha wrote it. Most of the Hunter Biden "investigation" is ugly politics in advance of Trump being charged and convicted of much more serious crimes. This is supposed to "prove" an equivalent violation by Biden to try and save the 2024 election. (I don't think it will work – Trump's legal problems will suck all the oxygen out of the news cycle(s) month after month.) 

    Too bad Hunter isn't half the man his father is. I'd feel better about defending him.

  3. I’m fine with the criminal justice system investigating Hunter Biden, and if someone does learn that Joe Biden somehow inappropriately used U.S. government resources to help his son, then let’s hear about it. But until such a connection is found, this isn’t the business of a congressional committee.

    I want to take mild issue with the stuff I italicized.

    I am not fine with the criminal justice system investigating Hunter Biden – there is no evidence of anything, except maybe tax irregularities, and it's *really* hard to commit a crime with taxes, if you want to pay all taxes owing, due to the nature of our voluntary tax system, and the lack of debtor's prisons. (i.e., you can never be arrested, just for owing money, even though it's to the IRS – one reason "taxation is theft" is a lie.)

    The reason Congress is investigating, is, the DOJ won't open a criminal investigation without evidence. This is why Trump wanted Ukraine to say they were investigating Hunter Biden – so AG Barr could announce deep concerns, and open his own investigation, based solely upon the existence of the Ukrainian investigation.

    (It had nothing to do with digging up dirt – they just wanted to be able to Comey another election, by "raising questions" and maybe rattling Joe Biden. But Barr wouldn't open a false investigation – that would get *him* in trouble. So he needed another nation – like Ukraine – to open one first. He could then pretend that he didn't want to open one, but, since Ukraine did….)

    And the nominal reason Congress is investigating is, there's a hard drive image, okay? A snapshot of the data on the hard drive, the instant the snapshot was taken – that's what they have And on that disk image, they have some e-mails that are guaranteed to be from, or to, Hunter Biden. That's the evidence – an image of a hard drive, and some e-mails, on the hard drive, involved Hunter Biden, were found as part of the image.

    Well, some e-mail providers – gmail,, I'm sure Apple, etc. – include information to allow verification that the e-mail is complete, and unchanged, since receipt. If it's changed, that included information won't be right. You can't tell what has been changed, but you can tell that a change was made. Some of the e-mails on the hard drive image include such information, and it checks out – so, some of the e-mails are definitely Hunter Biden's. But nothing incriminating. (Oh: someone thanked Hunter for a chance to meet his dad. Hunter's dad is a minor political celebrity so a "thanks!" is expected, appropriate, and not at all a sign of concern or cause for suspicion.)

    That's the evidence they have. That, and dickpics, apparently.

    Huh. Didn't the rightwing steal stuff from Hunter's sister? Project Veritas or one of those rightie-mook organizations? I wonder if he ever checked his e-mail on one of her devices? That would be all they needed to build this BS hard drive image, if they got access to her hard drive.


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