He has privately grimaced

The Post called Don for a chat about Saudi Arabia last night.

President Trump strongly criticized Saudi Arabia’s explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi late Saturday, saying that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”

At the same time, Trump defended the oil-rich monarchy as an “incredible ally” and kept open the possibility that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not order Saudi agents to kill Khashoggi.

That is, Trump talked his usual incoherent contradictory bafflegab late Saturday.

Trump had told reporters Friday that the Saudi explanation was credible, but U.S. officials said he has privately grimaced that his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s close relationship with the crown prince has become a liability and left the White House with no good options.

You can’t “grimace that.” You can “grumble that” but you can’t grimace that. A verb for making a facial expression is not a verb for saying.

But putting accuracy in language aside, what is Trump doing complaining about Jared Kushner as if giving him a job in the White House had been someone else’s idea? He’s Trump’s daughter’s husband, not anyone else’s. It’s Trump who has put his family members in administration jobs, not anyone else. It’s Trump who has broken laws against nepotism from the outset, not anyone else.

In the interview, Trump defended Kushner as doing a “very good job” but acknowledged that he and the crown prince, both in their 30s, are relatively young for the amount of power they wield.

Well yes, they are, and in Kushner’s case at least also callow and ignorant and unqualified. Whose fault is that?! Whose idea was it to put callow young Kushner in that job? Trump’s, not anyone else’s.

“They’re two young guys. Jared doesn’t know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other, I believe,” Trump said.

As is Princess Ivanka. Neither Princess Ivanka nor Prince Jared should be anywhere near the White House.

On Saturday, King Salman increased his support for the crown prince, putting him in charge of the official review of the Saudi intelligence apparatus.

The decision raised questions about the quality of Saudi Arabia’s review and investigation of its actions, which Pompeo touted as a key achievement of his trip.

“We talked about the importance of the investigation, completing it in a timely fashion, and making sure that it was sufficiently transparent that we could evaluate the work that had been done to get to the bottom of it,” Pompeo told reporters on the tarmac in Riyadh before leaving the country. “So that was the purpose of the visit. In that sense it was incredibly successful.”

Oh yes, hugely successful, with the crown prince now in charge of the review.

One U.S. official expressed dismay that Kushner’s close relationship with the crown prince was not enough to provide guardrails against the killing and now leaves the administration vulnerable to criticism that the United States is beholden to the Saudis.

The official said Trump is annoyed by a sense that he was blindsided and by what he sees as Kushner’s misjudgment. Kushner has in recent days been sidelined from the Khashoggi case, which many in the administration see as beneficial.

Blah blah blah; all this normalizing talk, as if there were nothing corrupt or incompetent about making stuffed dummy son-in-law responsible for the Saudi Arabia beat.

Trump suggested on Saturday that the crown prince was a stabilizing force in Saudi Arabia, despite the view of critics who note his government’s slaughter of civilians in Yemen, crackdown on dissent and jailing of political opponents.

“He’s a strong person. He has very good control,” Trump said. “He’s seen as a person who can keep things under check, I mean that in a positive way.”

Well of course he does; he’s a bully himself.

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