It’s only Wednesday, but Jared Kushner’s already had the worst week of his tumultuous tenure as White House Senior Advisor.
Late Monday, we learned that the First son-in-Law’s security clearance had been pulled. Kushner’s been entrenched in the West Wing for over a year and managing a vast portfolio of responsibilities. But he’d been doing so on an interim security clearance, and Chief of Staff John Kelly was forced to put and end to after the Rob Portman scandal earlier this month.
Then on Tuesday, we learned that U.S. intelligence officers had picked-up conversations by multiple foreign government officials discussing ways they could manipulate Jared Kushner in negotiations with the United States. Those countries included China, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia.
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As painful as those body blows must have been, however, the power punch landed late today, courtesy of the New York Times.
During 2017, while Jared Kushner was firmly employed at the White House, he met with principals from both Apollo Global Management – a massive global private equity firm – and financial giant Citigroup. Meetings with those individuals were held in the West Wing.
Joshua Harris, the founder of Apollo, was ostensibly advising the administration on infrastructure policy, while Citigroup’s CEO, Michael L. Corbat, was called in to discuss trade policy, according to the White House. Harris was even in consideration for a job with the administration, sources confirmed to the Times.
Within months, Apollo approved a $184 million loan to the Kushner Companies as part of a refinancing package for a Chicago office tower, and Citigroup processed $325 million to “help finance a group of office buildings in Brooklyn,” according to the Times.
“There is little precedent for a top White House official meeting with executives of companies as they contemplate sizable loans to his business,” the Times reports, citing government ethics experts.
“This is exactly why senior government officials, for as long back as I have any experience, don’t maintain any active outside business interests,” Don Fox, who led the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration, told the Times. “The appearance of conflicts of interest is simply too great.”
Representatives from both financial entities pushed back against the implications of the Times article, saying essentially that the conspicuous timing of the loans is purely coincidental.
Jared Kushner has not addressed this matter, but that’s understandable. He’s got a lot o on his plate now, what with trying to solve middle east peace without our governments best intelligence to aide him.
If anyone’s ever needed a weekend to arrive early, it’s him.