Fourteen current and former senior US officials tell NBC News that Saudi Arabia's crown prince has been hiding his mother from his father, King Salman, for more than two years. The officials say intelligence shows that Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, initially placed his mother under house arrest at a palace over concerns that she opposed the idea of the king appointing MBS crown prince and might seek to prevent him from doing so. King Salman did indeed appoint his son crown prince in June, stripping his nephew of the title; MBS was quick to consolidate power. (This week, it was reported that MBS had seized executive control of businesses linked to people he recently had arrested.) The officials say that over the past two years, MBS has kept his father from seeing his mother, using various excuses—such as claiming his mother is getting medical treatment.
The 32-year-old MBS, who revealed in a recent interview that Saudi Arabia would develop a nuclear bomb if Iran did, will be meeting with the US president next week. As NBC reports, he'll likely be touted as "a reformer who's expanded women's rights" in Saudi Arabia, but the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said his treatment of his mother proves the lengths he'll go to to ensure he is the country's next king. US officials have also told NBC that, based on interactions with King Salman, he may not be "consistently lucid"; they say he has told those around him that he misses his third wife, but he does not appear to know where she is. The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington denies that she is separated from her husband. See NBC for more. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)