Morning Joe dug into the "explosive" report from the New York Times, detailing the "close and personal relationship that has blossomed between the president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman who the CIA has assessed was responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi," Mika Scarborough said.
"That relationship reportedly began soon after the 2016 election, and became more significant in the early days of the Trump administration," she said.
"During that time, Kushner and MBS routinely held private informal conversations via either text messages or phone calls, which led to the chief of staff reimposing long standing procedures requiring that national security council staff members participate in all calls with foreign leaders. However, those informal chats reportedly continued to take place according to three former white house officials and two others briefed by the Saudi royal court and by now the two were on a first-name basis, calling each other 'Jared' and 'Mohammad.'
"Those exchanges continued even after Khashoggi's killing on October 2nd, with Kushner becoming MBS' most important defender inside the White House in the face of worldwide condemnation and the CIA's assessment, reportedly giving advice to the crown prince on how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve conflicts and avoid further embarrassment. Jared Kushner's lack of political and diplomatic experience, the exchanges could have made him susceptible to be manipulated by the Saudi, three former senior American officials told the New York Times.
"One former White House official ceded out there was a risk that the Saudis were playing him. A White House spokesman told the Times in part, quote, that 'Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines.'
"I'm not sure that's the case," Joe Scarborough said. "You had Jared Kushner going over and spending a weekend with MBS the week before he conducted his Riyadh purge. You almost get the sense that MBS has played Jared Kushner so he can get away with the purge and get away with the murder of Khashoggi. How extraordinary that a Washington Post columnist is murdered. The CIA determines that it's MBS who is responsible for the murder, and you have an adviser to the president of the United States and a relative of the president of the United States, giving him advice right after the murder on how to get away with it."
"It's right that we focus on the murder of Khashoggi but it's also important to note that Kushner has helped the Saudis bypass our foreign policy establishment and reshape our entire policy in the Gulf," Nick Confessore said.
"This extraordinary story should really change our understanding of how we view the Jared Kushner and MBS relationship. It's often talked about these are two crown princes but, in fact, it looks like the Saudis had sized him up as a mark and looked at him and saw a guy with no experience in the region, was transactional, had a shallow understanding of the history of the Saudis, wooed him with the precise purpose and knowledge that he was wooable and he could be a fulcrum for them in the White House and he has been.
"This is precisely what people were afraid of when he was given a broad and vague portfolio of foreign policy in the White House."