While in the White House, Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner cultivated close ties with the Saudi regime, and it’s paying off in the form of billions of Saudi dollars flowing into the two men’s post-presidency businesses. This is raising questions about how Trump and Kushner may have used their positions in government to ensure they profited when re-entering the private sector. With Trump’s announcement he is running for president again, the Saudi ties present a potential major conflict of interest, The Washington Post reports.
“The financial links between the Saudi royal family and the Trump family raise very serious issues,” Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told the Post. “When you factor in Jared Kushner’s financial interests, you are looking right at the cat’s cradle of financial entanglements.”
One day after his White House job ended, Kushner started a company that later became a private equity firm. That firm accepted $2 billion in funding from a state-owned sovereign wealth fund chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But the source of those funds was not immediately made public, due to the way the firm was structured, the Post reported, citing previously unreported details from Securities and Exchange Commission forms. The House Oversight committee in 2022, when Democrats had the majority, launched an investigation into the Saudi government’s investments in Kushner’s business.
Trump, too, has profited from post-White House Saudi investments. His golf courses have hosted tournaments for LIV Golf, which is backed by Saudi funds. Additionally, his company, the Trump Organization, has entered into an agreement with a Saudi real estate company that will construct a Trump-branded hotel in Oman.
According to a Trump spokesman, Steven Cheung, Trump merely used the art of the deal with Saudi Arabia to benefit the U.S. “President Trump is the most pro-America president in history and used his superior negotiating skills to ensure this country is never beholden to anyone,” Cheung told the Post.
But these Saudi connections raise questions about how Trump and Kushner may have used the White House to cultivate a close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in order to shore up their new business ventures once they left government. Trump’s first scheduled trip abroad was to Saudi Arabia, and the former president defended Mohammed after U.S. intelligence reported that he approved the journalist’s brutal murder. Kushner also frequently traveled to Saudi Arabia during the administration and remained close to Mohammed.
“I didn’t really know what Jared was doing with the Saudis,” a former administration official said to the Post. “That was part of the problem. We didn’t know what Jared was doing generally. And, you know, other governments had decided that you want to get close to Trump, the way to do it is through Jared.”
“I think it was an obvious opportunity for them to build their Rolodexes,” former Trump national security advisor John Bolton told the paper 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 added. “It’s a perfectly logical inference was that had something to do with business.”
Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia could cause major problems if he is elected president in 2024. Experts told the Post that Trump might be more lenient with the Saudi government because of his financial connections to the country and its leadership.