Foreign Policy

Report: Jared Kushner Made Up Trump’s “$110 Billion” Arms Deal With Saudis

Written by SK Ashby

We know the bulk of Trump's "$110 billion" arms deal with the Saudis is fake or will never happen for a variety of reasons, but how much of it is actually real?

This ABC News report on Jared Kushner's involvement in the fake deal may give us some idea.

According to two defense officials and three former White House officials who spoke to ABC News, Kushner inflated (read: lied about) the size of the deal after Pentagon officials told him that only $15 billion was currently in the process of being approved.

Kushner, in a bid to symbolically solidify the new alliance between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia while claiming a victory on the president's first foreign trip to Riyadh, pushed State and Defense officials to inflate the figure with arms exchanges that were aspirational at best, the officials said. [...]

“We need to sell them as much as possible," Kushner told colleagues at a national security council meeting weeks before the May 2017 summit in Saudi Arabia, according to an administration official familiar with the matter.

Another U.S. official said there was a back and forth between Kushner and Department of Defense and State officials on how to get to a larger number because the officials initially told Kushner that realistically they had about $15 billion worth of deals in works, based on the Saudi government's interest in a THAAD system and maintenance of other systems.

But even that order has not been fulfilled.

Trump has pointed toward this largely theoretical and fake "deal" as a reason for why we should not punish the Saudi government for assassinating Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. The deal is 'creating lots of jobs,' Trump says.

Other recent reports have cast a great amount of doubt on the number of jobs that would actually be created even if the full $110 package of sales was approved and we have ample reason to believe that will never happen.

All of the sales have to approved by Congress and a House majority controlled by Democrats is going to make that far more difficult. Incoming Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has already vowed to take a deep dive into all of the Trump regime's dealings with the Saudis and also examine Trump's personal financial relationship with the Saudi government.

It is possible that even the $15 billion in sales identified by officials will not be completed and exactly none of the "$110 billion" deal will change hands.

None of that necessarily matters to Trump beyond what it could mean for his own family's finances. No matter what else happens, Trump is always looking out for himself.