Democrats step up probe into Kushner’s business dealings


Democrats on two congressional committees have launched an aggressive new effort to obtain information on whether Jared Kushner’s actions as a senior White House adviser on U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf region were influenced by a bailout of his family’s business estate. .

On Monday night, the committee cited previously unpublished emails and other documents related to former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Letters to the State and Defense Departments requesting material they believe could reveal “whether Kushner’s financial conflicts of interest may have led him to improperly influence U.S. tax, trade, and national security policy for his own financial gain.”

The letters, obtained by The Washington Post, highlight efforts by Kushner and his father, Charles Kushner, to save a troubled 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The Kushner Companies struck a deal in 2018 with a Canadian firm, Brookfield Asset Management, which invested $1.2 billion for a 99-year lease. As a result, the Kushner family company avoided defaulting on a loan due the following year.

Democrats have long questioned the deal because sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority holds a stake in one of Brookfield’s investment arms.

When negotiating the deal in 2018, Brookfield said, “No Qatar-linked entity was involved or even aware of this potential transaction.” But Democrats continued to investigate whether Qatari money went to the project.

Now, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), for The Senate Finance Committee and the House Oversight Committee, have Expanded the scope of the investigation and co-authored letters to the State and Defense Departments. They wrote that they were seeking a series of documents to address their concerns that Jared Kushner’s role in Middle East policy could play a role in the bailout.

Neither Jared Kushner, who now runs a private equity firm, nor Charles Kushner, who is chairman of Kushner Real Estate, responded to requests for comment.

The saga of the Fifth Avenue property has long been one of the darkest chapters in Jared Kushner’s career.

After his father was jailed in 2005 on federal tax evasion and other charges, Kushner – married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka TrumpReshaping the family real estate business. He sold many of the company’s New Jersey apartments and bought the Fifth Avenue property for $1.8 billion, the most paid for an office building in the United States at the time. While Kushner called it a “great acquisition,” the acquisition came just before the 2007 real estate crash, sapping the value of properties and putting the family business at risk.

As Kushner recounted in his recent memoir, “Breaking History,” “I would never let an investment fail. I had very little influence, so I was willing to talk to anybody.” The biggest challenge of my life.

By 2016, Kushner was simultaneously helping Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and seeking investors to take over the property. An undisclosed email previously obtained by the committee said Kushner spoke with senior Brookfield officials about the Fifth Avenue property on April 15, 2016. At the time the property was known as 666 Fifth Avenue. Now known as 660 Fifth Avenue.

Five days later, Brookfield’s then-chairman Rick Clarke wrote in an email with the subject line “re 666”: “Jared – thank you for coming last Friday. We are excited about your project. “Congratulations on yesterday’s election,” Clark wrote at the end of the email, an apparent reference to Trump’s victory in the New York Republican primary, which helped secure his nomination. Clark did not respond to a request for comment.

In December 2016, while Kushner was working on Trump’s transition team, he met with representatives of a Chinese insurance company to discuss a possible investment in the property, The New York Times reported. Kushner also met with a Russian banker, but told Congress the family business was not discussed, although the bank has Said they talked about “promising lines of business and divisions”.

Then, as Kushner began his White House duties, he dropped his interest in the Fifth Avenue property and severed ties to the family company where his father worked. At the same time, he retained real estate holdings worth between $132 million and $407 million, according to the Post.

Because of Kushner’s commitment to Middle East policy, his father held a meeting with Qatar’s finance minister in April 2017 to discuss the Fifth Avenue property. Charles Kushner later told the Post that even if the Qataris offered to wire the money on the spot, he would have turned them down to avoid conflict of interest issues with his son.

Jared Kushner has been instrumental in influencing Qatari politics. During a visit to Arab countries in May 2017, he helped persuade Trump to strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia. A month later, Saudi Arabia joined a number of countries in severing ties with Qatar and imposing a blockade, accusing Qatar of funding terrorism. Contrary to accusations made by some in the administration, Kushner wrote in his memoir that he was not responsible for the Saudi actions against Qatar and “tried to persuade them to delay the decision.” He wrote that he then tried to work hard to lift the blockade on Qatar.

Charles Kushner, who gave his first interview on the matter in January 2018 about whether Kushner used his influence to get investors to bail out the Fifth Avenue building, told the Post that he deliberately avoided Doing business with sovereign investment funds or similar entities to avoid conflicts of interest with his son’s White House work.

A month after that interview, Charles Kushner discussed investing in the Fifth Avenue property with Brookfield Chairman Clark, according to emails obtained by the committee. A colleague of Charles Kushner then emailed Clark a summary of the proposed deal.

Two months later, the Qatari leader visited the White House and Trump officials called for an end to the blockade. The committee’s letter said the Trump administration’s support for the blockade “disappeared shortly after Charles Kushner’s discussions with Brookfield,” but they provided no evidence that the two events were linked.

The following month, Brookfield and Kushner Real Estate confirmed they were in talks for a deal for the Fifth Avenue building. Both sides said Qatar was not involved at the time in the investment, which was finalized later in 2018. Jared Kushner doesn’t mention Brookfield in his memoirs.

In the waning days of the Trump administration, Charles Kushner, who was convicted of filing false tax returns and other charges, was pardoned by Trump, and Jared Kushner traveled to the Persian Gulf to finalize a deal to end Qatar. Blocked agreement. The day after the Trump administration ended, Kushner created a private equity firm for which he secured a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The fund is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA says ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post.

In recent days, Kushner traveled to Qatar, where he posed for photos with some of the country’s leaders.

Meanwhile, Democrats have repeatedly reached out to Brookfield and Kushner for information on the Fifth Avenue real estate bailout.

On December 9, 2020, Wyden co-authored a letter to Brookfield stating that despite Brookfield’s assurances that no Qatari funds were involved in the transaction, “it appears to be the case” and asking the company Provide relevant documents. Then, on October 13, 2022, Wyden sent another letter to Brookfield accusing the company of being “obstructive as to whether or not the public was deliberately misled” about the use of Qatar-related funds to bail out the Kushner family estate. Wyden said Brookfield’s initial assurances that no Qatar-linked entities were involved “were later proven to be false.”

When asked by The Post about Wyden’s allegations, Brookfield issued a statement without directly addressing questions about Qatar’s role: “We have been completely transparent and responded to all requests. As we have always said, The decision to acquire this building was purely on its own merits – it is an iconic, underperforming building in a prime location in need of major redevelopment. The building has now been remodeled and we believe it will exceed the The expectation of creating value for customers.”

Qatar Investment Authority declined to comment by email. Qatari officials have previously said they were unaware of Brookfield’s investment in Kushner’s estate before it was reported in the media.Subsequently, Reuters reported in 2019 that the Qatar Investment Authority Will avoid investing money in investment funds not under its control.

The committee’s letter this week marks the most aggressive request for new information to date. The committees are looking for all relevant correspondence related to the Kushner family companies, Brookfield, the Qatar Fund, the blockade and other matters.

Additionally, the committees said they requested any correspondence involving “Kushner’s attempt to influence, interfere with, or supersede the normal operations and responsibilities of the State and the Department of Defense.”

Jonathan O’Connell and Alice Crites contributed to this report.

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