According to a March 22 letter released Monday, White House ethics attorneys are investigating a pair of loans given to Kushner Companies, the family real estate company of President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is facing mounting scrutiny following reports about potential conflicts of interest.
White House attorneys are examining whether two loans totaling more than $500 million to Jared Kushner’s family business may have violated any criminal laws or federal ethics regulations, according to a letter from the Office of Government Ethics https://t.co/29CpYoFijS— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) March 26, 2018
The probe comes in response to ethics concerned raised by journalists, lawmakers, and watchdog groups, after the New York Times reported late last month that Kushner Companies received more than half a billion dollars in loans after Kushner met with two financial executives to discuss official White House business—and, a few days later, The Intercept reported that a month after the firm failed to secure an investment from the Qatari government, Kushner advised Trump to provide essential support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE's bockade of Qatar.
The letter (pdf) was written by acting director of the Office of Government Ethics David Apol and addressed to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), a member of the House Oversight Committee who started asking questions after the Times report about Kushner Companies receiving a $184 million loan from Apollo Global Management and a $325 million loan from Citigroup. Jared Kushner stepped down from managing the company to join his father-in-law's administration, but he remains a part owner.
Apol's letter acknowledges that even the discussion of private business during Kushner's meetings with the financial executives could be cause for concern, but "more importantly, if there was a connection between the potential loan and an official act, it could raise an issue under 18 U.S.C. § 201 (bribery and illegal gratuities)." It also notes Krishnamoorthi's proposition that Kushner's actions could "constitute a breach of his ethical obligations to the American people."
"The White House is in a position to ascertain the relevant facts related to both possible violations and is responsible for monitoring compliance with ethics requirements...[and] initiating any appropriate disciplinary or correction action," Apol wrote. "I have discussed this matter with the White House Counsel's Office in order to ensure that they have begun the process of ascertaining the facts necessary to determine whether any law or regulation has been violated. During that discussion, the White House informed me that they had already begun this process."
Despite the letter's claim that an investigation has already begun, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies told the Wall Street Journal that the firm had not yet received an inquiry from the White House. Kushner's attorney, meanwhile, claimed the White House counsel had already concluded the loans were not connected to his dealings on behalf of the Trump administration.
After the Journal reported on Apol's letter, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted a common reaction: