Questions continue to be raised over whether President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, has shaped administration policy based on his family's business interests rather than the public welfare.
One concern is that Kushner may have used his influence to retaliate against Qatar after an alleged attempt to secure financing for one of his family's real estate properties from their government's sovereign wealth fund fell through, according to NBC News. Kushner Cos. is alleged to have approached Qatar on a number of occasions about investing in its 666 Fifth Avenue property in Manhattan, only to have none of those conversations yield results. The property currently faces $1.4 billion in debt that will be due in 2019; although Kushner stepped away from his family's business empire after becoming a White House adviser, special counsel Robert Mueller's team has been asking questions about Kushner's talks with Qatar. Mueller's team is also looking into conversations that Kushner had with individuals from China, Russia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Qatari government officials who visited the United States earlier this year discussed providing Mueller with information that they believe proved Kushner had worked with other nations in the region to harm them. They ultimately decided not to do so in order to avoid further negative consequences from the United States. In May 2017 — one month after Kushner is alleged to have directly sought investment from Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi — the United States supported a blockade of Qatar organized by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to Newsweek.
"To be clear, we did not meet with anyone from the Qatari government to solicit sovereign funds for any of our projects. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and false," Kushner Cos. spokeswoman Chris Taylor told Newsweek.
Another area of concern was a decision last year by the Securities and Exchange Commission to stop an inquiry into a financial company with ties to the Kushner family's business. Apollo Global Management, which gave the Kushner Cos. a $180 million loan, had been the subject of an SEC inquiry into how it disclosed the financial results of its private equity funds as well as other matters pertaining to cost and personnel issues, according to the Associated Press. Yet one month after Apollo provided the Kushner Cos. with the loan — a loan that was given following several White House meetings between individuals associated with Apollo and Kushner — the SEC dropped its inquiry.
Although there is no evidence that either Kushner or other officials associated with the Trump administration played a role in the SEC's decision, Public Citizen president Rob Weissman told the AP that "this looks absolutely terrible" for Kushner. Apollo denies that its company founder met with Kushner to discuss business or regulatory matters and Kushner Cos. denied in a statement that Kushner's White House position had been used to manipulate their company's relationship with potential lenders.
These reports come after a week of terrible news for Jared Kushner. The presidential son-in-law saw his security clearance downgraded at least partially due to concerns that his business interests left him vulnerable to manipulation by foreign countries. At least four nations — China, Israel, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates — were reported to have discussed ways of taking advantage of Kushner's business ties and lack of foreign policy experience. Kushner's ongoing political difficulties have even caused Trump to privately question whether it is time for his son-in-law to leave the White House, according to ABC News.