Attorneys for the White House are looking into whether the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, violated ethics regulations by meeting with banking executives who then lent his family’s real estate business hundreds of millions of dollars.
Kushner had several meetings with Joshua Harris, founder of Apollo Global Management, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, throughout early 2017. The meetings were used to discuss infrastructure policy. A possible job for Harris in the White House was also discussed. Harris was never hired to work in the White House but in November 2017 Apollo lent Kushner’s family’s real estate company, Kushner Cos, $184 million. The loan was reportedly used to refinance the mortgage on a Chicago skyscraper.
Kushner also met with Michael Corbat, the CEO of Citigroup, one of the nation’s largest banks, in the spring of 2017. Shortly after that meeting the bank lent Kushner Cos., and a partner, $325 million to help finance a group of buildings in Brooklyn, NY.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) had previously raised concerns about these meetings to the Office of Government Ethics. David Apol, acting director of OGE spoke with the White House Counsel’s Office about the meetings and Krishnamoorthi’s concerns.
“I have discussed this matter with the White House Counsel’s Office in order to ensure that they have begun the process of ascertaining the facts necessary to determine whether any law or regulation has been violated and whether any additional procedures are necessary to avoid violations in the future,” Apol wrote in response to Krishnamoorthi.
“During that discussion the White House informed me that they had already begun this process,” Apol added. “I have asked the White House to inform me of the results of that process. I am also forwarding this letter, as well as your letter to me, to the Counsel to the President for his review and a determination as to what action is warranted.”
Kushner’s business dealings have received increased scrutiny recently as it has been revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether actors and foreign governments have sought to influence administration policy with political contributions.
Last week it was revealed that Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, met with the Qatari Finance Minister last year in the hopes of securing investments for a troubled asset in the Kushner Cos portfolio. A $1.2 billion loan payment on the asset is due in early 2019. Just weeks after the potential deal fell through, an economic blockade against the nation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Middle Eastern nations for what they called Qatar’s state sponsoring of terror was put into effect.
Jared Kushner, who was deeply involved at the time in shaping Mid-East policy for the administration at the time, signed off on the blockade.
“I was invited to a meeting,” the elder Kushner told The Washington Post last week. “Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments. We informed the Qatar representatives of our decision and they agreed. Even if they were there ready to wire the money, we would not have taken it.”
Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded from “Top Secret,” the nation’s highest, to “secret” in recent weeks. The downgrade was the result of a new policy put into place by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly for White House employees who have had their security clearance pending for more than several months. Kushner has had his security clearance pending since June.