Jared Kushner responds after Hasan Minhaj calls out his ties to Saudi prince
Comedian Hasan Minhaj called out Jared Kushner to his face about his WhatsApp chats with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the starry Time 100 Gala — urging President Trump’s son-in-law to use his influence to secure the release of a jailed women’s rights activist.
Netflix “Patriot Act” star Minhaj talked at Tuesday night’s gala about Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who fought to lift the women’s driving ban in the kingdom and has been jailed and tortured.
Minhaj needled Kushner in front of all the guests and honorees at the Time Warner Center gala, including Kushner himself, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and journalists Gayle King and David Muir. Also, there were stars including Dwayne Johnson, Glenn Close, Taylor Swift, Emilia Clarke and Brie Larson.
“I know there’s a lot of very powerful people here, and it would be crazy if there was a high ranking official in the White House that could WhatsApp MBS and say, ‘Hey maybe you could help that person get out of prison because they don’t deserve it,’” Minhaj said. “But hey, that person would have to be in the room. It’s just a good comedy premise,” he added.
White House Senior Advisor Kushner — criticized by the Democrats for communicating with MBS via WhatsApp in what they say is a potential breach of federal law — was seated just a few tables away during Minhaj’s speech and kept his composure as everyone turned to look at him.
Despite the plea in front of Time’s 100 most powerful people in the world, Minhaj — whose show was famously pulled from Netflix in Saudi Arabia for criticizing MBS — didn’t take the opportunity to personally speak to Kushner about al-Hathloul at the event, so Page Six did.
Kushner told us that he was primarily focused on “advancing America’s interests in the region,” but said he has spoken to MBS about Saudi accountability for journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and the treatment of al-Hathloul. He said, “I will continue to put pressure on privately.” When asked whether MBS will take action, he added, “We’ll see.”
Kushner had earlier said at the Time 100 Summit Tuesday he “not going to dispute” that the Saudis were behind Khashoggi’s murder, which he described as a “terrible tragedy”. Kushner added that when he spoke to bin Salman after Khashoggi’s death, he urged the crown prince to “be as transparent as possible. … and obviously, we have to make sure there is accountability for what happened.”
Kushner attended the Time 100 Gala in Manhattan on Tuesday night alone, and without White House aides. His wife Ivanka Trump had stayed at home in DC with their children. He was also seen in friendly conversation with Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah, Ronan and Mia Farrow and even Speaker Pelosi, who was seated at a nearby table.
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