Kushner Asked Lockheed CEO To Cut Better Arms Deal For Saudi Arabia

Nick Mcbride
May 20, 2017

The call was part of Kushner's effort to secure a roughly $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia before Trump's scheduled trip to the kingdom on Friday. The married couple, both of whom work as White House advisers, are practicing Orthodox Jews and generally observe Shabbat, with rare exceptions for work-related issues.

It is unclear how much the Saudis will be paying for THAAD but Trump called it a "billion-dollar system" last month when the United States deployed the advanced missile defense radar to South Korea.

Human rights advocates have objected to those sales in light of Saudi Arabia's relentless air and ground campaign in Yemen, where millions of people are now on the brink of starvation, according to the World Food Program.

While unusual, the phone call does not appear to break any laws. Derek H. Chollet, who was assistant secretary of defense for global security affairs in the Obama administration, told the newspaper the House of Saud now directly deals with a Trump family member. "It's more normal for them than any previous administration".

While calling the head of a major defense company and simply asking for a lower price is widely considered an unorthodox negotiation tactic, Kushner's hands-on approach has drawn comparisons to when then-President-elect Trump criticized the stealthy F-35 fighter jet for being too expensive and Hewson gave her "personal commitment" to cut the cost of the program in February.

Trump tasked Kushner with several responsibilities including leading a task force to reform the federal government, looking into criminal justice reform and seek peace in the Middle East.

Separately, the New York Times reported on Friday that Mr Trump told Russian officials at a White House meeting last week that firing Mr Comey relieved "great pressure" that the president was facing from the ongoing probe into Russia and the election. In March, he was seen at the table when Trump hosted the deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, at a lunch in the White House's State Dining Room. His first destination would be Saudi capital Riyadh, where he will be on a two-day visit.

Other reports by VgToday

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