February 13, 2023

The Washington Post has a new report on the financial ties between Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, twice-impeached seditionist ex-president Donald Trump, and Trump top adviser and grifting son-in-law Jared Kushner. The short version is that the relationship has been brazenly corrupt since, at the absolute latest, Mohammed's successful operation to murder Washington Post writer and regime critic Jamal Khashoggi.

The longer version is that the corruption is of that special American sort that elected officials in this country insist is not corrupt, because reasons, and because they're the ones writing the laws everyone else tends to nod their heads and go along with it. Corruption in the United States is the same as it is anywhere else: In exchange for government favors, an elected official receives a financial payout from the person, company, industry, or foreign government that benefited from them. When this is done in a single meeting it's called bribery and everyone readily agrees it's crooked.

Put a few days between the quid and the quo and it's not called anything. It's just a presumed part of the lifecycle of the American politician. And both seditionist Republican leader Donald Trump and his in-charge-of-everything offspring by proxy have been hoovering up cash from their best bud, the Saudi crown prince, in such vast quantities that it's making all the other post-elected now-lobbyist crooks in America look very small indeed.

The Post's report does us the favor of collecting everything known into one place and narrative—and one that ought to be utterly farcical, even if we weren't referring to the would-be beneficiary of a violent coup attempt and his studiously incurious policy butler.

• In his inexplicable role crafting U.S. Middle East policy despite the nation having an entire State Department ostensibly responsible for such things, Kushner quickly established a relationship with not-then-crown-prince Mohammed bin Salman, one that served to boost Mohammed even when he gained power by imprisoning his enemies. Kushner was responsible for convincing a skeptical and bigoted Trump of the benefits of this new partnership.

• After the CIA exposed Mohammed for ordering the torture and killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump took pains to shield Mohammed from U.S. consequences. Trump was quite aware of the favor he was doing: "I saved his ass," he told journalist Bob Woodward. "Tell [Mohammed] he owes us," he told then secretary of state Mike Pompeo. This was likely literally true; Mohammed's exposure as the force behind the murder of a Washington Post columnist would likely have forced Saudi Arabia to distance Mohammed from international politics had Trump not pointedly circumvented the pressure the United States was attempting to apply to force that outcome.

• Donald Trump loses his re-election bid after four years of braggadocio-fueled incompetence.

• Just before the Jan. 6 coup attempt, Jared Kushner was making a last trip to meet with the Saudi crown prince. He flew back that day.

• The day after Trump and Kushner left the White House, Kushner formed a new company that would become the basis for a new private equity fund managed by himself.

• Kushner sought funding from the Saudi Arabian monarchy's Public Investment Fund. Did he do so in the January trip? Earlier? Later? He's not saying, but in a June 2021 meeting of the Fund four of the Fund's five panel members rejected Kushner's proposal as being not in the fund's best interests ...

• ... upon which the Fund, which is chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, swiftly approved Kushner's request anyway, handing him somewhere around $2 billion in Saudi funds.

The Donald Trump version itself is, of course, both gaudier and cheaper. LIV Golf, a tournament group funded entirely by the Mohammed-chaired Saudi Public Investment Fund that has been marketing itself as an alternative to the PGA tour, has been hosting tournaments at Trump-owned properties thought to bring Trump $2-3 million per event. LIV Golf has been struggling because of its ties to the journalist-murdering crown prince, but Trump has of course no such qualms.

There's something almost poetic, though, about Jared Kushner being rewarded with $2 billion from Mohammed's controlled fund while Donald Trump himself squirms for events bringing in a thousandth as much. That's been the story of the Trump "presidency" from beginning to end; in control of the world's dominant superpower, Trump's efforts to take advantage of his power have revolved around raising prices at his Washington, D.C., hotel, boosting club fees at Mar-a-Lago, and promoting his golf courses. We should be thankful the man's greed has been paired with an almost comically narrow-minded grifts.

What separates this story of favors done and rewards collected from others is that this isn't just the usual case of powerful U.S. government figures sliding into cushy, profitable relationships with whichever industries or companies were most pleased by their decisions. Donald Trump is, ostensibly, attempting to again become president. He is collecting millions from the Saudi crown prince's controlled money vault while being a declared Republican presidential candidate.

And his first-in-command, in the meantime, now has his entire fortune staked to Saudi largesse. It might be a problem!

What's maddening is that this sort of transparent corruption is so commonplace in this country that it's difficult to prod public outrage even when Trump and Trump's detached brain dive right into the most brazen versions. The Republican Party itself, of course, has staked its identity to new claims that not even fomenting violent attacks on Congress ought to count as something either deplorable or out of the political mainstream; there's no chance the party will decide that a candidate pinning their own financial livelihood to corrupt authoritarian governments elsewhere ought to count as a scandal.

For the most part all we can do at the moment is point out, yet again, that partnering with ambitious journalist-killing foreign royals to launder their reputations in exchange for Money is not normal even by American standards. If a Republican—any Republican—becomes president again while Donald Blowhard Trump still holds the power to make or break individual Republican politicians, will United States foreign policy towards foreign autocracies be plotted out with this nation's best interests in mind, or will they be bent in accordance with which nations are writing Donald Trump and his allies the fattest checks?

We all know the answer to that, and that might be the worst part. We all know the answer to that.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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