The attention lavished on Mr. Trump laid the groundwork for the cozy ties the Saudis were seeking, an investment that paid off for the kingdom throughout Mr. Trump’s presidency.
When Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab neighbors imposed a blockade on Qatar, Mr. Trump initially praised the move, although he later worked to end the rift. He lifted restrictions on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, despite the long record of civilians being killed in Saudi bombings in Yemen. And Mr. Trump became Prince Mohammed’s most ardent defender in Washington after the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, arguing that arms sales to the kingdom gave Americans jobs that should not be jeopardized because of human rights.
Prince Mohammed also grew close to Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, communicating with him directly via WhatsApp and sometimes meeting with him out of earshot of State Department note takers, leaving other branches of the government in the dark about what they discussed.
That relationship, too, appears to have paid dividends, this time for Mr. Kushner. Six months after leaving the White House, he secured a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia for his new private equity fund.