Jared Kushner is much in the news of late. Jared’s father, Charles Kushner, founded Kushner Companies in 1985. Jared took over the management of this company when Charles went to prison in 2005 for filing false tax returns.
Jared is also one of the founders of RealCadre LLC, an online real-estate investment system that received start-up financing in 2015 from billionaire George Soros.
What is perhaps most important, in October 2009 Jared married Ivanka Trump, which makes him the son in law of the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Late in the transition period, in January 2017, the President named Kushner his Special Advisor. There was some question about the legality of this appointment, under a 1967 anti-nepotism law, but the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel approved it – on inauguration day.
Throughout the administration, Kushner’s name has shown up in the context of the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. For example, Kushner was one of the participants at a much discussed meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 involving Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer said to have ties to Putin.
Kushner has also been in the news (and in this very column) in connection with his security clearance. He never received permanent security clearance and in recent weeks the interim clearance that he does have, has been downgraded from “top secret” to “secret.”
In recent days the spotlight on Kushner has become more intense than ever.
Right Wing View
On February 28 Ben Shapiro, a prominent conservative, tweeted out a link to a New York Times story about Kushner’s business ties. Shapiro affixed to it only a two word comment, “Whoo boy.”
Shapiro is the author of books like Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans. He was an editor-at-large for Brietbart for four years.
That Times story said that the huge private equity firm Apollo Global, lent $184 million to Kushner Companies last November, soon after Joshua Harris, one of the three managing partners of Apollo, met repeatedly with Kushner to discuss, among other items, a possible White House position for Harris. This loan was triple the size of the average property loan made by the real estate lending arm of Apollo, according to securities filings cited by the NYT story. Harris has already been advising the administration (on infrastructure policy), and the timing looks, at the worst, as if Kushner is leveraging his public position for his business’ purposes and, at absolute best, as if he is utterly oblivious about sending that message.
Another twitter denizen replied to that “Whoo boy” with this: “You know there’s trouble when even the Conservatives are panicking.”
The Wall Street Journal has editorialized that Kushner may well want to leave the White House, discussing the special counsel’s interest in Kushner’s business dealings and how they do or may interact with his public responsibilities.
Left Wing View
If Kushner is losing friends on the right, he won’t find many substitutes for them on the left.
Slate, which is a good synecdoche of the center left, says (under the headline L’Affaire Kushner) says that Kushner “may have orchestrated a foreign policy crisis to pressure Qatar to bail him out” of a disastrous real estate deal. That is an extraordinary charge. Slate also says it is merely a matter of good luck that the conflict between Qatar and its neighbors, the latter of whom were reportedly egged on by Kushner, did not escalate into war.
Rachel Maddow, host of an MSNBC program, says: “It is impossible to imagine that … Kushner keeps his job and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly keeps his job all together now given what has been reported about the serious conflicts between them and the suspicions of … White House officials toward the President’s son.”
Dan Rather, former anchor for CBS News, tweets, “Putting together the pieces – and following the money – around Jared Kushner. What might Mueller and his team find out (or already know?) Many other questions remain unanswered. But something very big may be taking shape.”