New Book Says Saudi Prince Spent Millions Turning Trump Into His ‘Lapdog’
The book Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman’s Ruthless Quest for Global Power by Wall Street Journal correspondents Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck paints President Donald Trump as easily manipulated by praise and destined to fall prey to more savvy political leaders.
Their case in point involves Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who by the authors’ telling exploited Trump’s weaknesses by treating him like royalty.
- Ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia, a decades-long ally, had deteriorated under former President Barack Obama, an excerpt of the book provided by The Daily Beast notes.
- But under Trump, the relationship would see a sharp turnaround, Hope and Scheck write: “The U.S. would reverse track on Iran and promise to stamp out Islamic extremism without apology with help from hawkish friends in the Middle East. And by bringing Saudi Arabia back into the fold, Mr. Trump’s advisers bet that they could get regional support for a peace deal in Israel.”
But over the course of the three-day pageant of celebration, events like the Muslim leaders’ summit made it increasingly clear that the real winner of the trip wasn’t Mr. Trump. Rather it was Mohammed bin Salman, the then-31-year-old son of the king who had hit the sleepy kingdom with a pace and verve not seen in a generation.
Only months on the job, the upstart prince had figured out exactly what to do to get Mr. Trump’s attention: big deals, audacious praise, and treating the elected president of a republic like a visiting king.
- According to the book, the visit to Saudi Arabia was spearheaded by Mohammed bin Zayed, “the crown prince and day-to-day ruler of the United Arab Emirates,” during a Trump Tower meeting with “[Jared] Kushner, the trim real estate heir married to Ivanka Trump, and Michael Flynn, a decorated former lieutenant general who was just coming out of a private-sector career as a consultant and lobbyist for foreign governments,” which took place just after Trump won the 2016 election.
- MBZ quickly helped orchestrate an introduction between MBS and Trump’s advisers, according to the book, which adds that “Prince Mohammed gave Kushner confidence that he was a new kind of prince, one who understood the importance of the world of money and technology and wasn’t interested in age-old grievances.”
- “Prince Mohammed’s staffers began working day and night to make it a blockbuster trip,” the excerpt says, “arranging to not only host the President of the United States but the leader of just about every Muslim-dominated country as well as a cast of top American CEOs for a parallel business summit. They paid top dollar to fly in top chefs.”
The Saudis presented Mr. Trump with a pile of lavish gifts—bejeweled sculptures, swords, daggers, headdresses, and a robe lined with white tiger fur among them—and Trump and his staff would return to the United States claiming a foreign-policy victory of resetting ties with Middle East allies.
- At the same time, MBS enjoyed “unbelievable headlines and glowing coverage of the country and its reforms—the best anyone could remember since the days before 9/11. He had shown his father he could not just handle, but excel at deepening the country’s relationship with its most important ally.”
- The excerpt adds,
Boosted by the experience, he kicked plans to consolidate power into overdrive, arresting cousins, uncles, and a host of billionaires on allegations of corruption, rearranged the government, and bumped [Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a cousin of Prince Mohammed who at the time was heir to the throne,] out of position to inherit the throne.