Calls are mounting for President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner to resign or be fired from the White House amid heightened concerns about conflicts of interest with his family's real estate firm following a series of alarming reports this week.
"This simply can't go on... Slick, compromised, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
—Charles Pierce, Esquire
"Jared Kushner must resign," concluded Robert Weissman, president of the watchdog group Public Citizen. "His business entanglements are corrupting our government and potentially endangering national security."
The Intercept's Ryan Grim and Qatar-based investigative reporter Clayton Swisher published an "extraordinary story" on Friday disclosing a previously unreported meeting between Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi and Charles Kushner—Jared's father and the head of Kushner Companies, the family real estate firm of which Jared remains a part-owner—to discuss financing for a key Kushner property, 666 Fifth Avenue.
Notably, the reporters explain, "the failure to broker the deal would be followed only a month later by a Middle Eastern diplomatic row in which Jared Kushner provided critical support to Qatar's neighbors. Led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a group of Middle Eastern countries, with Kushner's backing, led a diplomatic assault that culminated in a blockade of Qatar."
In April 2017, Jared Kushner's real-estate firm sought money directly from the Qatari government. A month after failed negotiations, Kushner reportedly advised Trump to back a blockade against Qatar.https://t.co/pcsMjspQFY
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) March 2, 2018
Last July, Grim, Swisher, and Ben Walsh had reported on an earlier failed refinancing deal for that same property between Kushner Companies and another major investor in Qatar—Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, also known as HBJ.
As Vanity Fair noted at the time, although Jared Kushner "sold his stake in 666 Fifth Avenue to work in the White House," it was he who had initially invested in the property, as a 26-year-old in 2007. He had taken over Kushner Companies "after his father, Charles, went to prison—for, among other things, a very classy revenge scheme that involved hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law for cooperating with a federal probe against him."
The Intercept's latest report comes amid rising concerns about conflicts related to Jared Kushner's White House role and his involvement with his family's real estate business.
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Friday afternoon, NBC News revealed that investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller—who is leading the federal investigation into allegations of Russian election meddling as well as collusion and obstruction of justice by members of the Trump campaign—had "asked witnesses about Kushner's efforts to secure financing for his family's real estate properties, focusing specifically on his discussions during the transition with individuals from Qatar and Turkey, as well as Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates."
Qatari gov’t officials considered turning over to Mueller what they believe is evidence of efforts by their Persian Gulf neighbors in coordination with Kushner to hurt Qatar, NBC News reports. The Qatari officials decided against cooperating—for now. https://t.co/LLA542eDmp
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 2, 2018
That revelation followed a series of reports this week about potentially shady multimillion-dollar loans to Kushner Companies by lenders whose executives had met with Kushner at the White House; a probe by the New York State Department of Financial Services into Kushner's relationships with various banks; and efforts by foreign officials in China, Israel, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates to manipulate Kushner in diplomatic negotiations "by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties, and lack of foreign policy experience."
The swirling controversy around Jared Kushner's conflicts of interest is apparently frustrating the president—to the point that those calling for Kushner's ouster may get their wish granted by Trump himself. Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman reported in the New York Times on Thursday that Trump now sees Kushner "as a liability because of his legal entanglements, the investigations of the Kushner family's real estate company, and the publicity over having his security clearance downgraded."
Jared Kushner must be in serious trouble if even his father-in-law doesn't want him around. If #Kushner wanted to put his family and our country above his ego, he should step aside now. https://t.co/15B6QAK50C
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 2, 2018
Trump aides told the Times reporters they are frustrated that "Kushner and his wife, the president's daughter Ivanka Trump, have remained at the White House, despite Mr. Trump at times saying they never should have come to the White House and should leave." The aides also noted that "Trump has told the couple that they should keep serving in their roles, even as he has privately asked [his chief of staff John] Kelly for his help in moving them out."
"This simply can't go on," wrote Charles Pierce, at Esquire, reacting to reports earlier this week. Addressing Jared directly, he adds: "Slick, compromised, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."