Kushner offered the de facto Saudi ruler advice “about how to weather the storm” following the death of Khashoggi, the Times reported on Saturday, citing a Saudi source familiar with the conversations.
Although White House protocol stipulated that National Security Council staff be present on all phone calls with foreign leaders, Kushner and bin Salman continued to chat informally after Khashoggi’s death, the Times reported, citing two former senior American officials and two people briefed by the Saudis.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the story.
A White House spokesman told the Times in a statement, “Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines regarding the relationship with MBS and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts,” referring to the crown prince by his initials.
White House officials declined to explain those protocols and guidelines to the Times or to comment on Kushner’s one-on-one communications with bin Salman since the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.
The Saudi government has denied bin Salman’s involvement.
Even after the CIA’s assessment, Kushner emerged as bin Salman’s most important defender, arguing that Trump needs to support the crown prince because the Saudis remain a key component to the Trump administration’s Middle East policy, the Times reported, citing people familiar with the deliberations.
Sources told CNN that Kushner was quietly leveraging his close relationship with bin Salman throughout the fallout when asked and retreating to the sidelines when necessary.