Jared Kushner, Donald's Trump son-in-law, and former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin collectively raised $3.5 billion from the Middle East shortly after leaving the Trump administration, presenting potential conflicts of interest given that both men cultivated diplomatic relations with Middle Eastern leaders during their time in government.
According to The New York Times, Mnuchin collected $1.5 billion from the Emiratis, Kuwaitis and Qataris within three months of his exit from the Trump administration. Kushner, a former senior advisor to Trump, likewise raised $2 billion from the Saudi government during a six-month period after his tenure was complete.
The investments, which both men raised for their respective private investment firms, appear to stem from relationships developed while Kushner and Mnuchin were touring around the Middle East to finance the Abraham Fund, a $3 billion fund designed to promote economic cooperation and development between the U.S., the UAE, and Israel. The fund ultimately disintegrated, but shortly after Kushner and Mnuchin left office, "each quickly launched a private fund that in some ways picked up where the Abraham Fund had ended," the Times reported.
A number of ethics experts have expressed concerns about the possibility that Kushner and Mnuchin were developing business relationships with Middle Eastern leaders in anticipation of their transition to the private sector.
Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Times that both men's business ventures pose potential conflicts of interest.
When it comes to Kushner, she said, "the reason this smells so bad is that there is all sorts of evidence he did not receive this on the merits."
Back in April, the Times reported that Kushner's was able to raise millions from the Saudi Public Investment Fund even though the fund's panel members expressed doubt over the former Trump aide's investment experience as well as his high fees. Others saw a significant "public relations" risk in light of Kushner's relationship with Trump.
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According to the Times, Mnuchin made over eighteen visits to various Persian Gulf monarchies during his tenure as Treasury secretary, developing relationships with Yasir al-Rumayyan, chief of the Saudi fund; Mansoor bin Ibrahim al-Mahmoud; Mansoor bin Ibrahim al-Mahmoud, the head of the Qatar Investment Authority; Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayedm, president of the UAE, and Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince.
Kushner, meanwhile, made at least ten trips to the Persian Gulf, reportedly fostering a close partnership with bin Salman, even after the government's agents were accused of killing former Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Both Kushner and Mnuchin have hired former aides, many of whom worked on the Abraham Accords, to work with them in the private sector.