Ivanka Trump, center, and Jared Kushner, right, arrive for the funeral of former first lady Melania Trump’s mother, Amalija Knavs, at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

NEW YORK (AP) — Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s former White House adviser and his son-in-law, defended on Tuesday his business dealings after leaving government with the Saudi crown prince who was implicated in the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Kushner worked on a wide range of issues and policies in the Trump administration, including Middle East peace efforts, and developed a relationship with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has overseen social and economic reforms and a far-reaching crackdown on dissent in the kingdom.

After Kushner left the White House, he started a private equity firm that received a reported $2 billion investment from the sovereign wealth fund controlled by Prince Mohammed, drawing scrutiny from Democrats.

Kushner, speaking at a summit in Miami on Tuesday sponsored by media company Axios, said he followed every law and ethics rule. He dismissed the idea of there being any concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest in his business deal.

“If you ask me about the work that that we did in the White House, for my critics, what I say is point to a single decision we made that wasn’t in the interest of America,” Kushner said.

He said the sovereign wealth fund, which has significant stakes in companies such as Uber, Nintendo and Microsoft, is one of the most prestigious investors in the world.

He also defended Prince Mohammed when asked if he believed U.S. intelligence reports that the prince approved the 2018 killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist. The prince has denied any involvement.

“Are we really still doing this?” Kushner at first said when he was asked if he believed the conclusions from U.S. intelligence.

Kushner said he had not seen the intelligence report released in 2021 that concluded the crown prince likely approved Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“I know the person who I dealt with. I think he’s a visionary leader. I think what he’s done in that region is transformational,” Kushner said.

He stood by the Trump administration’s policies and called it “one of the greatest compliments” that President Joe Biden backed away from his initial stance to shun Saudis for human rights violations to instead work with the crown prince on issues like oil production and security in the region.

“I understand why people, you know, are upset about that,” Kushner said of Khashoggi’s killing. “I think that what happened there was absolutely horrific. But again, our job was to represent America, and to try to push forward things in America.”

Kushner also said he is not interested in rejoining the White House if Trump wins the 2024 presidential election, saying he was focused on his investment business and his living with his family in Florida out of the public eye.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2023. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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