The stench surrounding Jared Kushner has become more pungent with each passing day.
On Monday, Jon Swaine's Guardian reported that, since Kushner entered the White House as his father-in-law's senior consultant, a company co-founded by Kushner has received over $ 90 million in foreign funding, channeled through secret offshore companies.
The public has no idea where this money comes from – a big problem since Kushner is not just one of Donald Trump's main international envoys, it is in fact sent boss.
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Defense Secretary James Mattis found Kushner's interference in opaque, irritating Middle Eastern diplomacy and – during the summer of 2017, when he released a block of Qatar, a country with an American air base – very dangerous. His zeal for defining an "agreement of the century" for the Israeli prime minister, "Bibi" Netanyahu, an old family friend, made him the benchmark of the US government in a region known for attempting to grab the political favor of the United States with dollars.
Even a puff of potential conflicts of interest undermines Kushner's diplomacy – something that would be unacceptable in any other administration.
But this is Trump World. C & # 39; just a guiding rule, that the principals just care about hiding: pay to play. The corruption and self-dealing of Trump and his family are on such a vast scale that if it weren't so horrible, you would almost admire the audacity.
Kushner founded the company in question, an online commercial real estate agent called Cadre, with his brother, Joshua, in 2014. "Cadre will make us billionaires," Kushner announced shortly thereafter. He refused to give up his entire stake when he joined the Trump administration. (Kushner claims to have sold from most of it, but the shareholders were not notified of any sales, which is highly unusual).
Worse: in his first financial disclosure form, which he filed in March 2017 with the Office of Government Ethics, Kushner did not even list his participation in Cadre, which was worth up to $ 25 million at the time. After the sensational oversight it was reported from the Wall Street Journal, a lawyer from Kushner stated that the omission was involuntary and that it would be corrected. By June 2018, Kushner's participation in Cadre was valued up to $ 50 million, or between 3% and 6% of the company.
An informant has alleged that Kushner's commercial interests are among the reasons why White House personnel security officials have recommended that neither he nor his equally conflicted wife, Ivanka Trump, have received a security clearance – a recommendation that President Trump ignored.
Many administrations suffer embarrassing displays of corruption from family members who see proximity to power as their opportunity to cash in. In the 70's, Jimmy Carter's little brother, Billy, tried to make money by supporting Billy Beer. In 1999, Neil Bush, son of the forty-first president and brother of the 43rd future, founded a technology company in class that received investments from the Kuwaiti royal family, a Chinese technological leader and a Russian billionaire. That same year, Tony Rodham, the now missing brother of Hillary Clinton, collaborated with the political opponent of a US ally to export hazelnuts from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.
But these efforts were made outside the White House by relatives without maximum security authorizations. They pale in comparison to what the Trump and Kushners may have done.
Some highlights to date: first and foremost is the problem of the president's tax returns, which Trump refused to disclose despite a law saying that the secretary of the treasury must provide them to Congress, if requested. We also know that, since 2010, Deutsche Bank has lent money to the Trump Organization not from its own bank balance sheet, but through the private banking division, which means that Trump's business is hooked to entities or individuals. whose identity is obscured.
Meanwhile, as president, Trump brazenly mixed politics with his business by showing off the presidential access via Trump properties like Mar-a-Lago, the so-called "Winter White House", and the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, that they were flooded with foreign occupiers trying to ingratiate themselves with the administration figures.
Then it was "the bracelet". On 16 November 2016, a few days after Trump's transition, Ivanka promoted a diamond bracelet from her jewelry line in 60 minutes. The next day, his company sent a "style notice" advertising the bracelet for over $ 10,000. For the next 17 months, Ivanka worked as a consultant at the White House while retaining ownership of her company, which received numerous lucrative foreign brands, sometimes during her meetings or chatting with the leaders of those foreign countries.
Meanwhile, her husband, Jared – nominal head of overseas business on behalf of Trump's transition – and his father, Charles, met secretly with the Chinese and various Middle Eastern rulers, looking for funds to save the their economically hit building at 666 Fifth Avenue, for which they needed $ 1.4 billion by February 2019.
Ultimately, a Canadian company – Brookfield, whose main external shareholder is a wealthy sovereign fund of Qatar – came to the rescue with a financial offer that, according to a normal real estate logic, made no sense: to rent the property; building for 99 years, for $ 1.3 billion – and paying the full amount in advance. Coincidentally, in the period that the operation was reported, the secretary of state asked the Saudis to end their blockade of Qatar. In cynical language, this is called diplomacy dollars.
Fortunately for the Kushner family company, the Qatari blockade continues, which means that Qataris are still vulnerable. In the spring, representatives of the Qatari government told me in person and by e-mail that there was another payment due to Jared through an offshore fund in June – apparently, when Cadre received the $ 90 million.
In any other administration, a senior government official (not to mention his son-in-law) who was revealed to have clung to a $ 50m stake in a company while serving in the office and did not disclose that he would be asked by the president of Leave . But President Trump will do nothing of the kind – so other parts of the government must do it.
The Justice Department should investigate Jared's $ 50 million stake initially not disclosed in Cadre and the investments the company has received since.
And Congress must work harder to overcome oysters and investigate the strange relationships that Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization have had with Deutsche Bank, where executives ignored calls to report Trump and Kushner transactions to the government for potentially suspicious activities. At least Senator Elizabeth Warren is demanding This spring, the government-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac provides details on its $ 800 million Kushner deal this spring.
Congress should also put the microscope on Jared's private communications and on the unshakable alliance with the crown prince, clearly dangerous – but rich – of Saudi Arabia. (The Saudis, note, were shareholders of the Canadian company that saved 666 Fifth Avenue). But somehow that message gets lost in the noise of Russia and other bananas.
History will judge corruption as the most destructive and decisive feature of a crowd-like family occupying 1600 Avenue in Pennsylvania. And it will be – but only if the Congress acts.
Vicky Ward is the author of Kushner, Inc: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The extraordinary story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
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