Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas suggested Friday that there might be a connection between the death of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi and Jared Kushner's close relationship with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (known as MBS).
The congressman, who is considered a top contender for Senate in 2020, called for an investigation into the matter. However, Castro cited unspecified reporting during a CNN appearance to back his claims.
There is "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," Castro said.
CNN's Poppy Harlow interrupted Castro to explain that the news network had not reported anything like that, but Castro insisted that he had "seen reporting to that effect…that needs to be investigated."
In a statement to Newsweek, Castro clarified that he did not intend to insinuate Jared Kushner was sending hit lists to MBS, but he did think there may have been some leakage of information.
"To be clear, I did not intend to accuse Jared Kushner of orchestrating the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. But based on several press reports, the close relationship between Kushner and Mohammad bin Salman is a source of concern for the U.S. intelligence community and those of us who want a transparent American foreign policy," said Castro.
"This is especially problematic given the President and his family's business enterprises and the possibility that they profit from these foreign entities. For these reasons, Congress should open an investigation to see whether Jared or any other Administration official shared any U.S. intelligence with the Saudis that led to any political persecution, including the killing of Jamal Khashoggi," he continued.
Reports have shown that Kushner, a White House senior adviser and President Donald Trump's son-in-law, and MBS had a friendly relationship, and that the pair often chatted on the popular messaging service, WhatsApp. Kushner also dined with the prince in Washington and Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian journalist working for The Washington Post and living in Virginia. He was last seen entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey on October 2 with the intention of receiving a document to prove he was divorced so that he could marry his fiancée. He was not seen exiting the consulate and now appears to be missing. It is widely believed that the Saudi government orchestrated his assassination.
Trump denied these claims at first, insisting that the Saudi king gave a "very strong" denial of the incident and suggested instead that there might have been "rogue killers" after Khashoggi. Later in the week, however, the president changed his tune and said that "it certainly looks" like Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate. "It's very sad," he said and added that if Saudi Arabia was involved in the killing, punishments would "have to be severe, I mean it's bad, bad stuff. We'll see what happens. OK?"
An initial investigation found audio and witnesses confirming that Kashoggi was likely tortured and dismembered while at the consulate. New images show a man who looks like an assistant to MBS entering the consulate shortly before Kashoggi.