PROOF OF CONSPIRACY | SETH ABRAMSON | St. Martin's Publishing Group






ON SALE 9/3/19


Of the source of the intelligence Kushner reportedly gives to MBS in 2017 as part of their discussions of “peace,” multiple Saudi sources with knowledge of MBS’s boasts to his inner circle describe it as originating “from U.S. wiretaps on conversations between Arab royals in hotels in London, in major U.S. cities and even on yachts docked close to Monte Carlo . . . information from the daily intelligence briefing provided by the intelligence community to the White House.”224 Kushner therefore either illegally shared classified intelligence with a foreign government or the information was declassified by Trump himself to facilitate its transfer to MBS. An intelligence transmission of this sort—between Trump, his son-in-law, and a foreign leader, with the content of the intelligence arising in part from foreign nationals’ hotel stays—would mirror the sort of clandestine, Trump-executed intelligence-gathering operation described by former MI6 Russia desk chief Christopher Steele in the dossier of raw intelligence he compiled in 2015 and 2016. In that document, Steele’s MI6-derived sources alleged that “a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership” was “managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort,” and involved the Kremlin “receiving intel from Trump’s team on Russian oligarchs and their families in [the] US,” a topic “with which Putin and the Kremlin seemed preoccupied”—much like MBS would be, with respect to his own countrymen traveling abroad, in 2017.225 Steele’s dossier will further note that an “intelligence exchange . . . running between” Trump’s team and the Kremlin saw Trump’s side ably meeting “Putin’s priority requirement . . . for intelligence on the activities, business and otherwise, in the United States of leading Russian oligarchs and their families. Trump and his associates duly had obtained and supplied the Kremlin with this information.”226

Steele’s sources’ assessment of the Trump family’s willingness to pass highly personal information in their possession to foreign autocrats will be echoed by the research that journalist Craig Unger collects for his book House of Putin, House of Trump. According to Unger, Trump coordinated with Felix Sater’s Bayrock Group, the Trump Organization’s scouting outfit for potential Russian clientele, to “indirectly provid[e] Putin with a regular flow of intelligence on what the oligarchs were doing with their money in the United States.”227 According to the Washington Post, Putin’s aim was “to keep tabs on the billionaires . . . who had made their post–Cold War fortunes on the backs of industries once owned by the state. The oligarchs . . . were stashing their money in foreign real estate, including Trump properties, presumably beyond Putin’s reach. Trump, knowingly or otherwise, may have struck a side deal with the Kremlin, Unger argues: He would secretly rat out his customers to Putin, who would allow them to keep buying Trump properties. Trump got rich. Putin got eyes on where the oligarchs had hidden their wealth. Everybody won.”228

Engaged in what would appear to be a similar operation in late 2017, Trump’s son-in-law gives the Saudi crown prince valuable information on the activities of the autocratic Saudi government’s wealthiest citizens—an action that suggests either recompense for some past Saudi largesse or a conviction that something Trump wants done by Saudi Arabia could not or would not have been done had Mohammed bin Nayef, the longtime U.S. ally, been left as heir apparent. As reported by the Daily Mail, MBS “told members of his circle that the intelligence included information on who was disloyal to him. . . . ‘Jared took a list out of names from U.S. eavesdrops of people who were supposedly MBS’s enemies,’ said one source, characterizing how MBS spoke about the information. ‘He took a list out of these people who had been trashing MBS in phone calls, and said ‘these are the ones who are your enemies.’ MBS was actually bragging about it in Saudi Arabia when it happened, that he and Jared sat up until 4AM discussing things, and Jared brought him this list.”229 A second Saudi source told the Mail that Kushner and MBS “sat for several hours together. They literally laid out the future map of the entire region, that’s why they stayed up to the early hours of the morning from the afternoon before.”230

Another disturbing aspect of Kushner’s October 2017 trip to Riyadh is the subsequent revelation that during the same week Kushner was in the Saudi capital working on reshaping the geopolitics of the Middle East, another member of the Kushner clan was there as well—working on a business deal. According to the New York Times, Jared’s brother, Josh, flew out of Riyadh less than twenty-four hours before Jared flew in; Josh had been attending an investor conference at which MBS “promised to spend billions of dollars on a high-tech future for Saudi Arabia.” The younger Kushner had “frequently ducked out for more exclusive conversations with Saudi officials,” however.231 The appearance left by the synchronicity between the Kushner brothers’ travel itineraries—that “top aides” to MBS were discussing sizable investments in one Kushner enterprise just hours before receiving classified intelligence from another Kushner to help the crown prince take control of Saudi Arabia—is troubling.232 What is even more concerning, however, is that, as the Times reports, through the entirety of the 2016 presidential campaign Jared Kushner had a financial “interest in his brother’s funds” and “ties [to] his brother’s company.”233 According to the newspaper, before the election Jared Kushner was “closely involved” in Josh Kushner’s firm, Thrive Capital, “having sat on the board and investment committees of Thrive” through the beginning of the Trump administration, and having “received at least $8.2 million in capital gains from various Thrive funds while working in the White House”—meaning that, despite stepping down from Thrive’s board in January 2017, Jared Kushner stood to gain financially from any deals his brother did with MBS in the days immediately preceding or following his secret trip to meet with the Saudi crown prince.234

Within twelve months of Josh Kushner’s meetings with top aides to MBS in Riyadh, Thrive will have raised $1 billion in new funds. It is unclear how much of this came from MBS and his promised “billions” of new investments in American firms.235 A Thrive spokesman “declined to disclose whether Saudis had invested in any Thrive funds,” answering queries from the Times instead with a cryptic remark about Thrive having “received no money since the presidential election from any Saudi who had not previously invested in its funds”—inadvertently raising an additional worry for ethics watchdogs in Washington, namely that MBS had been giving money to the younger Kushner during the presidential campaign even as his emissary George Nader was offering money to another member of the Trump family, Don Jr.236 Asked by the Times whether Thrive had in fact continued receiving investments from Saudis who had already invested in Thrive pre-election, Thrive’s spokesman “declined to answer.”237

Josh Kushner’s access to top MBS aides like Yasir Al-Rumayyan in Riyadh in October 2017 raises eyebrows in the tech community as well. According to the Times, “The Riyadh conference drew Wall Street titans, and some attendees questioned how a relatively small player [Josh Kushner] enjoyed high-level access to Saudi officials.”238 Al-Rumayyan, for instance, is managing director of the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, and his son Faisal began socializing with Josh Kushner in New York after Jared’s brother returned there from Riyadh.239

That Trump and Kushner agreed to give classified information to MBS to help him solidify his hold on power in Riyadh is seemingly confirmed when, following the crown prince’s November 2017 purge, Trump “tell[s] friends that he and Jared had engineered a Saudi coup.”240 “We’ve put our man on top!” Trump crows.241 While Kushner’s involvement in the intelligence transfer is unsurprising, given that he was at the time a “voracious” reader of the President’s Daily Brief, the PDB is in fact “intended only for the president and his closest advisers”; although Kushner is a top adviser to President Trump, it is unclear how much of the classified intelligence included in the PDB is relevant to his official role in the White House.242 According to a former White House official and a former U.S. intelligence professional familiar with Kushner’s habits, Trump’s son-in-law is “particularly engaged by information about the Middle East,” though whether this interest is born of his role as an adviser to his father-in-law or a personal investment in events in Saudi Arabia is unclear.243 One indication that Kushner’s interest in PDB intelligence on Saudi Arabia is tied to his personal relationship with MBS comes from U.S. intelligence sources— including “a former White House official and two government officials with knowledge of” the PDB—who confirm for The Intercept that between June and October 2017, the PDB “contained information on Saudi Arabia’s evolving political situation, including a handful of names of royal family members opposed to” MBS deposing bin Nayef.244 Therefore, when MBS’s late fall purge occurs and “the Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief [a]re among those rounded up,” it suggests that both Trump and Kushner—the former through an intelligence declassification not clearly in the interests of the United States, and the latter through a transmission of intelligence of equally dubious utility to long-term American interests—have focused their respective attentions on putting a Saudi royal they call “our man” on the throne of his kingdom, MBS’s qualifications or readiness for that position notwithstanding.”245

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