There has always been a sense of impropriety about Donald Trump’s and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s relationship with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. Multiple whistleblowers just exposed the White House administration trying to do an end-run around Congress to sell highly sensitive nuclear technology to the Saudis. Fortunately, these whistleblowers came forward in time.
The transfer would have allowed Saudi Arabia to become involved in nuclear weapons proliferation in an unstable region, which would be a violation of the Atomic Energy Act, according to the Committee on Oversight and Reform. In addition, the Congress is required by law to review any such sales. The country is not a member of the nonproliferation agreement.
Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a 37-page interim staff report based upon the testimony of these whistleblowers and related documents.
The report stated “conflicts of interest…could implicate federal criminal statutes:”
‘The whistleblowers who came forward have expressed significant concerns about the potential procedural and legal violations connected with rushing through a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. They have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes.’
The whistleblowers also warned the committee of White House “chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting.” The “top ethics advisors” tried to “halt their efforts” to sell to the Saudis, but to no avail:
‘They have also warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting. And they have warned about political appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisors at the White House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump Administration officials to halt their efforts.’
This comes at a tense time between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia given the crown prince’s torture, strangulation, and dismemberment of The Washington Postjournalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The White House has been unusually quiet rather than condemn the incident. Indeed, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ bipartisan requested the White House prepare a report on Khashoggi’s murder, but the request was ignored.
According to the Oversight committee’s report, the White House’s efforts were “accelerating” just as Kushner was heading on a scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia:
‘The Committee’s investigation is particularly critical because the Administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia appear to be ongoing. On February 12, 2019, the President met with nuclear power developers at the White House about sharing nuclear technology with countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. In addition, next week Mr. Kushner will be embarking on a tour of Middle Eastern capitals—including Riyadh—to discuss the economic portion of the Administration’s Middle East peace plan.’
According to the committee’s report, there has been “serious, bipartisan concern” with the proposed nuclear sale. Just before the midterm elections Republican Senators Cory Garner, Dean Heller, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Todd Younger sent Trump a letter requesting he:
‘…suspend talks related to a potential civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia” due to “serious concerns about the transparency, accountability, and judgment of current decision makers in Saudi Arabia.’
Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn was employed by the company that was situated to make billions of dollars on the Saudi deal. The company also saved Kushner’s 666 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan skyscraper with forfeiture with a 99-year lease.
These documents and communications involved former Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland, former NSC Senior Director for Middle East and North African Affairs Derek Harvey, Trump long-time friend and chair of his inaugural committee Thomas Barrack, former deputy campaign manager and deputy chair of the inaugural committee Rick Gates.
Gates pled guilty to charges of financial fraud and for lying to investigators. He has turned state’s evidence.
Click here for the interim staff report.
Click here to read the attached documents.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.