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Kushner’s Bad Week: Losing Clearance, Suspicious Business Activities, and the Looming Russia Investigation

This week at the Trump White House was a cornucopia of news developments including a gun control meeting that quickly went off the rails, news of Trump confidant and stalwart Hope Hicks’s resignation, and Jared Kushner, First Son-in-Law, being stripped of his Security clearance for failure to complete paperwork in a timely manner, quickly followed by disturbing reports of Kushner’s business interests benefiting from his position in the White House and Kushner influence prompting possible backlash from the White House for parties who refused to support the Kushner Companies. 

The Democratic National Committee says:

This week very clearly shows why Jared Kushner should lose his job at the White House. Kushner has never been qualified for his role . . . Kushner has repeatedly made critical omissions on his background check forms and has had to make dozens of revisions to his financial disclosure . . . multiple recent stories have further shown that the corruption Kushner brings to the White House is matched only by Trump himself ...

Backing the DNC’s assertions, Kushner has amended and changed his financial filings on security documents 39 times, omitting significant financial disclosures.

Kushner’s Undisclosed Meetings with Foreign Nationals on Behalf of Kushner Cos.

 The Washington Post reported this week, that in December 2016, Kushner had meetings with the chairman of China's Anbang insurance company, a Russian banker and a former prime minister of Qatar in the Kushner company’s efforts to get funding for the Kushner company’s $1.2 billion debt. The Washington Post revealed:

“Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.”

National Security advisor H.R. McMaster, later learned that Kushner’s contacts with foreign officials were not coordinated through the National Security Council nor did he officially report them. 

NBC reported yesterday that special counsel Mueller is investigating if Kushner’s meetings with foreign officials during the presidential transition, impacted White House policy, specifically noting that the White House last year backed an economic blockade of Qatar in the weeks after Qatari officials declined to provide loans to the Kushner Companies.

SEC’s Decision to End an Investigation of Kushner Related to Apollo Loan

The AP is reporting on the SEC’s 2017 decision to end a Kushner Co. loan investigation. The SEC investigation was prompted after Apollo Global Management gave the Kushner Cos. a $180 million Real Estate loan.  Apollo’s loan to the Kushner Cos. followed several meetings at the White House with Jared Kushner and Apollo Global Management’s founder, reported by the New York Times this week.

Currently, there is no evidence that Kushner’s White House role or anyone else in the Trump administration played a role in the SEC’s decision to drop the Apollo inquiry.  'I suppose the best case for Kushner is that this looks absolutely terrible,' said Rob Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

 ‘Without presuming that there is any kind of quid pro quo ... there are a lot of ways that the fact of Apollo's engagement with Kushner and the Kushner businesses in a public and private context might cast a shadow over what the SEC is doing and influence consciously or unconsciously how the agency acted.'

In its 2018 annual report, Apollo disclosed that the SEC had halted its inquiry into the firm’s financial reporting and how Apollo reported the results of its private equity funds.  

New Revelations about Citibank Loan to Kushner Co. after White House Visit

Shortly after Citigroup’s CEO Michael Corbat visited Kushner’s White House office, Citigroup made a $325 million loan to the Kushner Companies, the New York Times reported this week.    “This is exactly why senior government officials…don’t maintain any active outside business interests,” per Don Fox, former Acting Director and General Counsel of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration. “The appearance of conflicts of interests is simply too great.”

In spite of White House ethics rules, Kushner continues to own “as much as $761 million” of the Kushner Companies according to a New York Times estimate and the Times also notes that while Kushner is the point man for Middle East policy “his family company continues to do deals with Israeli investors.”

Separate Ongoing Federal and State Investigations of Kushner

Separately from the Mueller probe, Kushner is being investigated by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn for the Eastern District of New York.  Investigators have requested records related to a $285 million loan Deutsche Bank gave Jared Kushner’s family real estate company in October 2016, one month before election day. Kushner was the Kushner Companies’ CEO until January 2017 and still owns part of the Kushner Cos. after selling off part of his stake. The Kushner Companies have a long-term relationship with Deutsche Bank according to financial disclosure forms.

The New York State Department of Financial Services asked Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank and New York Community Bank for information about their relationships with Jared Kushner and his finances, The Wall Street Journal and ABC News reported this week. Responses to the New York State inquiry are due March 5.

Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s attorney, says Kushner has behaved “appropriately” in meetings with foreign officials and that he “has taken no part of any business, loans or projects with or for” Kushner Companies since joining the White House.”  In a statement provided to NPR, Lowell says, "Mr. Kushner has done more than what is expected of him in this [Security clearance] process."

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