The former Daily Show correspondent, who now has his own Netflix show, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, took a jab at the White House Senior Adviser’s ties to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Kushner looked on.
“I’m very lucky that I get to be here in America and I can make jokes about very powerful leaders, and I have the safety of being here in America,” Minhaj said to the crowd. “We have a lot of incredible rights here in America and safeties that we take for granted oftentimes.”
Minhaj went on to specifically call out Loujain Al-Hathloul, a Saudi activist that helped lift the women’s driving ban in the kingdom and honoree who couldn’t be at the event because she’s currently in prison.
He continued, “A lot of times as comedians we get a lot of credit. People come up to us and they go, ‘Thank you so much for pointing a light on that issue,’ but that’s all we’re doing, we’re pointing. And I just want to say thank you to Loujain for being the light.”
From there, Minhaj referenced Donald Trump’s son-in-law without actually saying Kushner’s name.
“This is a very — this is a very powerful room, and you know, I know there’s a lot of very powerful people here,” he said. “It would be crazy if — I don’t know, if there was just like a — I don’t know, like, if there was a high-ranking official in the White House that could WhatsApp MBS and say, ‘Hey, maybe you could help that person get out of prison because they don’t deserve it,’ but that would be crazy. That would be — that person would have to be in the room, but that’s just a good comedy premise.”
Minhaj’s comments were praised on Twitter (including being called “fearless” and “ballsy”) — though at least one wishes he had said Kushner’s name.
Gotta love my bro @hasanminhaj :-)— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) April 24, 2019
From @brianstelter's nightly email: "Kushner was seated at a prime table at the TIME 100... First, Hasan Minhaj suggested that Kushner should text Mohammed bin Salman on WhatsApp and urge the release of a Saudi dissident..."
Light attracts light. Thank you for your voice @hasanminhaj— Savannah Reed (@SavannahReed78) April 24, 2019
I do wish he'd named Kushner, but still - super ballsy and righteous move, @hasanminhaj! Thank you.— D Sullivan (@lovethisplan) April 24, 2019
Minhaj later told Time magazine that his request was sincere. “I was just hoping he could send a WhatsApp message,” he said. “[It could say] hey, this person has been fighting for civil liberties for all people. Maybe you should let them out of prison.”
The funnyman added that he couldn’t not see Kushner’s reaction to his comment. You can – from afar — in the below video.
Kushner uses the app to communicate with Prince Mohammed and other foreign leaders, it was revealed in December. At the Time 100 Summit earlier in the day on Tuesday, Kushner said he doesn’t dispute the CIA’s conclusion that Prince Mohammed was behind the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
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