Bezos hack: Did Trump approve?
If we weren’t in the thick of an impeachment trial, said Dan Primack in Axios.com, “the country’s biggest story would be allegations that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone.” That stunner emerged last week, after investigators hired by Bezos—who is, not incidentally, also the owner of The Washington Post—concluded that bin Salman, also called MBS, personally sent data-mining malware to Bezos in a WhatsApp message. Their findings were backed up by U.N. investigators, who believe the cyberattack was an attempt to intimidate Bezos and the Post from publishing the critical columns of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, who was later murdered by a Saudi hit squad. After the spyware attack, the National Enquirer, whose owner, David Pecker, has ties to both MBS and President Trump, published leaked texts and photos revealing that the then-married Bezos was having an affair.
The silence from the White House is telling, said Justin Sink in Bloomberg.com. Trump, who refused to sanction the Saudis after the Khashoggi killing, has continued to maintain a strong alliance with MBS, sending U.S. troops and nuclear technology to Riyadh. Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is known to be tight with MBS. Are the Saudis monitoring his phone, too? The implications of what we already know are “mind-blowing,” said Will Bunch in The Philadelphia Inquirer. A murderous foreign dictator had a U.S.-based journalist killed with the apparent blessing of Trump, who shares his loathing of the Post and a free press. After the impeachment trial, House Democrats should investigate the “Trump-Saudi alliance” and seek records of Trump’s phone calls to MBS, which—like his call to Ukraine’s president—were moved to a secret server by panicked aides.
Stop hyperventilating, said Holman Jenkins Jr. in The Wall Street Journal. The report, written by a private firm hired by Bezos, provides only “circumstantial and underwhelming” links between the MBS text messages and Bezos’ hacking. The Enquirer says it bought the embarrassing texts between Bezos and his paramour, Lauren Sanchez, from her brother, not the Saudis. But if the world’s richest man did get his personal information stolen off his phone, said Richard Waters in the Financial Times, “then who can truly feel safe?” For anyone in a senior position in business or government, “it is a clear wake-up call.”