Proving that the thicket of congressional and law enforcement investigations circling around outgoing President Donald Trump’s family will not end with his White House term, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Joaquin Castro opened up a new probe on Wednesday focusing on Jared Kushner’s potentially compromising dealings with Qatar and other Middle Eastern governments.
The latest investigation looks into whether Kushner pushed his father-in-law Trump to support a Qatari blockade while Kushner Companies sought a more than billion-dollar bailout from officials from that and other Middle Eastern governments.
“We write to seek information on any ethics guidance that has been provided to Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner on potential conflicts of interest related to Kushner Companies, a real estate company owned and operated by his family in which he remains a significant investor,” Wyden, D-Oregon, and Castro, D-Texas, wrote in a 4-page letter to Trump’s senior counsel Scott Gast, at the Office of White House Counsel.
The probe focuses on the company’s 666 Fifth Avenue, purchased some 13 years ago at Jared Kushner’s urging for a reported $1.8 billion dollars. A $1.4 billion payment was coming due in February 2019.
“It was against this backdrop that Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, met in April 2017 with Qatari Finance Minister Sharif Al Emadi, to solicit an investment from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund for the 666 Fifth Avenue property,” Wyden and Castro noted, citing reporting from the New Yorker. “According to a financial analyst familiar with the meeting, Charles Kushner asked the Qataris ‘for just under a billion dollars.'”
After the Qataris refused, Kushner reportedly met with with officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—without U.S. diplomats present—the next month.
“During this private meeting, Saudi and UAE officials reportedly discussed the blockade they were planning to impose on Qatar with him,” the letter states, citing former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May 2019.
Brookfield Asset Management, an investment firm with links to Qatar and the UAE, took over 666 Fifth Avenue ‘s lease in 2019. Its subsidiary Brookfield Property Partners, whose second-largest investor is Qatar, signed the 99-year lease.
“Mr. Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, has made the unprecedented choice to serve as Assistant and Senior Adviser to the President while still retaining his stake in a substantial amount of real estate holdings and assets directly linked to Kushner Companies, a family business in which he served as the Chief Executive Officer until joining the Administration,” the letter stated. “Jared Kushner’s initial public financial disclosure form filed in 2017 indicates that he retained almost 90 percent of his real estate holdings, which at the time were valued between $132 million and $407 million.”
In a related letter, Wyden and Castro grill Brookfield’s CEO Bruce Flatt about the company’s dealings.
“During negotiations with Kushner Companies, were any representatives from Brookfield Asset Management aware that Mr. Kushner and his family had held previous discussions with Qatari government officials and businessmen, including the April 24, 2017 meeting between Charles Kushner and Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi?” the first question asked.
Wyden and Castro want responses and documents by Dec. 23.
Read the letters below:
[Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]