Background Briefing: June 13, 2024


The Senate Launches a Probe Into Jared Kushner’s $2 billion Payoff From Saudi Arabia’s MbS

We begin with the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee asking Jared Kushner for more details about the $2 billion investment in his new company from Saudi Arabia’s MbS at a time when there is much focus on Hunter Biden’s comparatively paltry overseas business deals which will be highlighted by Republicans in September when the president’s son goes on trial again. Joining us to discuss the pernicious influence of foreign funding and foreign influence on our politics is Casey Michel, the Director of the Combating Kleptocracy Program at the Human Rights Foundation, as well as a writer, analyst, and investigative journalist working on topics ranging from kleptocracy, illicit finance, dark money, foreign lobbying, and foreign interference to the legacies of Russian and Soviet colonialism. He is the author of American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History and Foreign Agents: How American Lobbyists and Lawmakers Threaten Democracy Around the World, out soon. We discuss his article at CNN, “There should be sunlight about the kinds of deals Jared Kushner and Hunter Biden struck overseas.


The Saudi/Israel Security Pact Biden is Doggedly Pursuing

Then we examine the deal the Biden administration is doggedly pursuing in which Saudi Arabia would extend full diplomatic recognition to Israel in exchange for the United States providing Saudi Arabia a security guarantee, assistance in developing a nuclear program, and more unrestricted arms sales. Joining us is Paul Pillar, who served for 30 years as an analyst at the CIA, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. Previously, he served as chief of analytic units at the CIA covering portions of the Near East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. He has also headed the Assessments and Information Group of the DCI Counterterrorist Center, and was deputy chief of the center. He is currently a nonresident senior fellow of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University and a nonresident fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft where he has a new report, “Implications of a Security Pact with Saudi Arabia.” His latest book is Beyond the Water’s Edge How Partisanship Corrupts U.S. Foreign Policy. 


Italy’s PM Giorgia Meloni Hosts the G-7 Summit With Glamour Amidst “Dead Men Walking”

Then finally, with the G-7 summit hosted by Italy’s PM Giorgia Meloni beginning today with the glamorous leader surrounded by world leaders some have described as “dead men walking” because they could soon be out of office, we will speak with Alexander Stille, Professor of International Journalism at Columbia University. He is the author of Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic, The Future of the Past, The Sack of Rome: How a Beautiful European Country with a Fabled History and a Storied Culture was taken over by a Man Named Silvio Berlusconi and his latest book is The Sullivanians: Sex, Psychotherapy and the Wild Life of an American Commune.