Kushner: US Urged Saudi Crown Prince to Be Transparent Over Khashoggi Case

© REUTERS / Jonathan ErnstSaudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman escorts White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and his wife White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump at the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017
Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman escorts White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and his wife White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump at the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Earlier, sources speaking to US media said that President Trump was "annoyed" for being "blindsided" by his son-in-law's misjudgement of the Khashoggi case, and had sidelined Kushner due to his close relationship and private correspondence with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Senior Trump advisor Jared Kushner said that the White House is still in the fact-finding phase regarding Riyadh's account of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death, adding that the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would decide on a course of action after the facts emerge.

"Right now as an administration, we're more in the fact-finding phase, and we're obviously getting as many facts as we can from the different places, and then we'll determine which facts are credible. After that the president and the secretary of state will make a determination as to what we deem to be credible and what actions we think we should take," Kushner said, speaking to CNN on Monday.

Riyadh remains a critical US partner and ally, with President Trump remaining focused on US interests, Kushner added.

"We have to be able to work with our allies, and Saudi Arabia has been I think a very strong ally in terms of pushing back against Iran's aggression, which is funding a lot of terror in the region, whether it's the Houthis in Yemen, or its Hezbollah or Hamas. We have a lot of terrorism in the region. The Middle East is a rough place; it's been a rough place for a very long time, and we have to be able to pursue our strategic objectives. But we also have to deal with obviously what seems to be a terrible situation," Kushner said.

An activist holds a sign and image of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration calling for sanctions against Saudi Arabia and to protest Khashoggi's disappearance, outside the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2018 - Sputnik International
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Asked whether he would trust Riyadh to "investigate themselves," Kushner said the US is continuing to collect the facts, and once those facts come in, "we'll work with our national security team to help us determine what we want to believe and what we think is credible and what we think is not credible."

He added that he would urge Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be transparent and to take the situation surrounding Khashoggi's death "seriously."

"Just to be transparent, to be fully transparent. The world is watching. This is a very, very serious accusation and a very serious situation," he said when asked what advice he would give the crown prince.

"We have our eyes wide open. I think that the president is focused on what's good for America, what are our strategic interests, where do we share interests with other countries, let's work toward those," Kushner said.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens during the American Leadership in Emerging Technology event with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington - Sputnik International
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On Sunday, sources speaking to The Washington Post said that Trump sidelined Kushner over his perceived "misjudgment" on policy over Khashoggi's death, with Kushner and Crown Prince Salman's close relationship perceived to have left the administration "vulnerable to criticism that the United States is beholden to the Saudis." Last week, House of Representatives lawmaker Joaquin Castro accused Kushner of providing Crown Prince Salman with a "hit list" of enemies which included Jamal Khashoggi's name on it, referring to a The Intercept story from March which suggested that Kushner had shared the names of "disloyal" Saudis with the prince, allegedly without Trump's permission. Kushner's spokesman dismissed the story as "false."

Saudi national and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Last week, Riyadh said its preliminary investigation showed that the journalist may have been killed after getting into a fistfight at the consulate. Saudi authorities have since detained 18 individuals in connection with the case, and dismissed intelligence chief Ahmad Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, a senior aid to the crown prince.

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