Monday, July 10, 2017

Award-Winning Journalist Amy Wilentz on Just How Little Jared Kushner Knows About Foreign Politics

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Excerpts from the interview on Democracy Now! with Amy Wilentz:

President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is, along with Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., at the center of a shocking New York Times story published Sunday. According to the article, Kushner, Trump Jr. and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during the 2016 campaign after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton at Trump Tower two weeks after Trump won the Republican nomination. Kushner is one of Trump’s senior advisers who has assumed a major diplomatic role in the administration, despite having no previous diplomatic experience. We speak to Amy Wilentz, a contributor at The Nation...
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted—I wanted to ask you about Saudi Arabia. And apparently Jared does have some relationships with some of the royal family in Saudi Arabia. How this might play out?
AMY WILENTZ: Yes. So, Jared, apparently, according to news reports, helped organize President Trump’s recent triumphal trip to Riyadh. And the person he dealt with there was one of the many princes of the royal family, Mohammed bin Salman. And that relationship—that’s a 30-year-old prince, so very young for succession in the Saudi family. One of the—one of the results of that relationship, which was apparently very cordial, between Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman, or, as he’s known, MBS, is that MBS has now been made the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, in a sort of nod to Jared Kushner and the Trump administration. And that’s a big step for the Saudis to take, although I think it can be rescinded at the end of a Trump administration, if they wish to do so. So that’s a very big deal for Jared Kushner.
AMY GOODMAN: So you’re suggesting—
AMY WILENTZ: He now has a crown prince.
AMY GOODMAN: —that in Saudi Arabia, that they—that he decided to depose his nephew—King Salman—and put in his son, because of his relationship with Jared Kushner.
AMY WILENTZ: Exactly, although, you know, one wonders whether the nephew was consulted about this or whether there was prior discomfort with the nephew. We can’t see inside the Saudi monarchy. But, yes, this is a gesture to the Trump administration.
AMY GOODMAN: Also extremely significant—
AMY WILENTZ: A big one, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —given that his son is the one who has overseen the Saudi military operations, the U.S.-backed Saudi military—
AMY GOODMAN: —operations in Yemen, which has devastated this country—which has devastated Yemen.
AMY WILENTZ: That’s right, the 30-year-old son.
AMY GOODMAN: The significance of this meeting, that is big news in the United States today, the meeting of—that was initiated apparently by Donald Trump Jr., that The New York Times is reporting on? He brought in Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner into this meeting with a Russian Kremlin-linked lawyer.
AMY WILENTZ: Yes, well, there are several things to think about here. To me, one of the most interesting things about this meeting, other than the kind of suspicions it raises about dealmaking between the Kremlin-linked lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and the Trump administration, is whether Donald Trump Jr., who does not have a job in the White House, has been made sort of, sub rosa, an official of the Trump administration, who does not have a legal obligation to reveal. In other words, if Jared Kushner had not felt that he better reveal this meeting with Veselnitskaya on his security form—which he failed to do in the first place, but now has done—if he had not been present at this meeting, we would not know about this meeting. If he and Paul Manafort hadn’t been invited by Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump Jr. could have had this meeting with Veselnitskaya to discuss possible negative information this lawyer had, with no knowledge of the American public or the press or the security infrastructure, and yet Donald Trump Jr. would be acting, in effect, as an agent of the Trump administration. I think that is the most disturbing underlying thing that we’ve learned from this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Amy, I wanted to ask you about this whole trend of the Trump administration, of—as you mentioned, it’s a family operation—of involving not only Jared, the son-in-law, but Ivanka in all of these high-level meetings with key world leaders, when they have absolutely no experience or no reason to be there other than that they are family members.
AMY WILENTZ: Yeah, he’s running it as if he’s running the Trump Organization. He’s moved them, effectively, some of them, out of positions of power in the organization into positions of power in the new organization: the United States government. And it’s an extremely disturbing thing. You know, you do get worried when Denmark is going to Miss Universe to talk foreign policy to the United States government, and when you have Ivanka Trump subbing in for her dad at the G20 conference on how to help African economies so that refugees aren’t generated every two seconds in those terrible economies. What is she doing sitting between Xi Jinping and Theresa May at a table at the G20 conference? It’s just ridiculous. And I think one of the things that—you know, it adds to the impression in the world that the Americans are not worth talking to, that it’s silly and not serious.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, on a very—
AMY WILENTZ: And yet, of course—and yet, of course, they have to be—they have to be dealt with, because it is the United States government, and it is in charge of one of the grandest militaries in the world. And yet Ivanka Trump is representing it at the G20.
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