WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Democratic congressman accused President Trump's son-in-law and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner of giving a "hit list" to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia that resulted in the alleged death of Jamal Kashoggi, a Saudi national who has been living in the U.S. for several years and writing columns for the Washington Post.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat representing a district in Texas, made the claim on CNN Friday morning of unspecified “reporting that Jared Kushner may have, with U.S. intelligence, delivered a hit list, an enemies list, to the crown prince, to MBS, in Saudi Arabia and that the prince may have acted on that, and one of the people he took action against is Mr. Khashoggi.”
CNN Host Poppy Harlow stepped in to make it clear that the reporting did not come from the network and that she had not heard about the claim.
“I’ve seen reporting to that effect that needs to be investigated," Rep. Castro maintained.
Castro could be citing a story using anonymous sources from the U.K.'s Daily Mail, which reported last Friday that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bragged of receiving classified US intelligence from Jared Kushner and using it as part of a purge of 'corrupt' princes and businessmen.
Kashoggi's disappearance in Turkey more than two weeks ago has put a major strain in relations between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which controls a major amount of Middle East oil production. Turkey, under ruler Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, has been putting enormous pressure on the U.S. to intervene.
Thursday, President Trump acknowledged that Kashoggi is likely dead and has so far only offered that there should be "severe consequences" if the Saudi government is found to have murdered him. Saudi Arabia has denied that the crown prince was behind Kashoggi's alleged death, and has claimed that he left the Saudi Embassy in Turkey shortly after he entered it.
Many journalists and politicians have been critical of President Trump's delays in directly expressing an opinion on what happened, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday the kingdom should be given more time to investigate before the U.S. lays any blame or considers action.
However, policy experts have pointed out that Turkey, under the authoritarian leadership of Erdogan, is attempting to drive a wedge between the West and Saudi Arabia. They point out the hypocrisy of a regime currently imprisoning hundreds of its own journalists while trying to claim some higher moral ground over the alleged murder of Kashoggi, and point out that so far all news reports are second-hand, and attributed to "government sources" solely in the Turkish government.
Policy strategists who focus on the Middle East warn the consequences of a fallout in relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia would be dire for the U.S., as it would put Iran in control of oil production in the Middle East. If this were to happen, the balance of economic power in the world would shift to the authoritarian regimes of Vladimir Putin's Russia and China, who have closer ties to Iran and Syria.