President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, reportedly intervened on Saudi Arabia’s behalf to negotiate down a pricey antimissile radar system from Lockheed Martin.
A New York Times report out Friday, citing several unnamed administration officials, described a meeting between Kushner and a delegation from the Gulf nation on May 1.
“Let’s get this done today,” Kushner is quoted as saying of the more than $100 billion arms deal on the table, which both sides wanted to finalize before Trump’s visit to the nation this weekend as part of his first trip overseas as President. One American official raised the possibility that the Saudis add a Lockheed-made radar system to the bill.
Sensing that the cost might be a problem, several administration officials said, Mr. Kushner picked up the phone and called Marillyn A. Hewson — the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, which makes the radar system — and asked her whether she could cut the price. As his guests watched slack-jawed, Ms. Hewson told him she would look into it, officials said.
The incident recalled a frequent boast by President Trump that he had personally pressured Lockheed to lower costs on an order of F-35 fighter jets.
Former President Barack Obama signed off on $115 billion in arms offerings to Saudi Arabia over 42 separate deals, according to a report from the Center for International Policy in December. The Times noted that “several” of the weapons in the Trump administration’s arms deal with the nation had already been approved for sale by the Obama administration.
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 famine, according to the World Food Program.