Jared Kushner’s past 36 hours could make someone miss Manhattan’s cutthroat real estate market. Things aren’t going well for the investor and real estate businessman turned presidential adviser. (For that matter, it’s not looking great for his wife, Ivanka Trump, either.)
First, Kushner’s security clearance — which after more than a year in the White House still hasn’t been made permanent — was downgraded, and he breached ethics rules in a campaign statement. He is reportedly in a standoff with Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Then, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday evening that officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they might be able to manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his business arrangements, financial difficulties, and lack of foreign policy experience, citing current and former US officials familiar with intelligence reports.
Some in the White House are reportedly worried Kushner was “naïve and being tricked” in conversations with foreign officials, Shane Harris, Carol Leonnig, Greg Jaffe, and Josh Dawsey wrote for the Post, some of whom only want to deal with him instead of more experienced professionals.
On top of all of that, on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that the New York Department of Financial Services, the state’s banking regulator, has asked Deutsche Bank and two local lenders — Signature Bank and New York Community Bank — to provide information about their relationships with Kushner, his family, and the family business, including emails and communications related to denied and pending financing requests.
Here’s what happened over the past couple days for the president’s son-in-law, assistant, and senior adviser — who is also a key player in the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.
Foreign countries reportedly think they can use Kushner’s business ties — and debts — to their advantage
Per the Post’s Tuesday report, officials from the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico have discussed ways to influence Kushner to their advantage. While it isn’t uncommon for foreign governments to try to figure out ways they can influence senior officials, Kushner’s complex set of business arrangements and foreign entanglements — combined with his lack of experience in politics — has always been a concern in the White House. And his behavior while in office has reportedly been even more alarming.
National Security Adviser HR McMaster was reportedly taken aback by some of Kushner’s foreign contacts and surprised to learn he had contacts with foreign officials that he hadn’t coordinated through the National Security Council or officially reported.
“When he learned about it, it surprised him,” one official told the Post. “He thought it was weird. … It was an unusual thing. I don’t know that any White House has done it this way before.” McMaster and Kushner have since coordinated so the National Security Council is aware of his contacts.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly also asked about the protocols Kushner used when setting up conversations with foreign leaders.
Kushner stepped down as CEO of Kushner Companies, his family’s real estate business, after Trump’s election, but the business remains in his family, and in 2016, he ran it and helped oversee the Trump campaign at the same time.
The company in 2007 bought a building at 666 Fifth Ave. in New York under his direction for $1.8 billion, and after the building became troubled in the recession, it was left with $1.2 billion in debt that comes due in January 2019. According to the Post, Kushner and the company have explored several options for financing to help keep the building above water, including in China and Qatar. Kushner also discussed financing with a Russian banker in December 2016.
Kushner Companies has stressed that the Fifth Avenue building is a small fraction of its assets and that it is financially sound. According to the company’s website, it did more than $2.5 billion in transactions in 2017.
Kushner’s top-secret security clearance was rescinded
Kushner and several other White House aides were informed in a memo on Friday that their interim security clearances would be downgraded from top-secret/SCI-level (sensitive compartmented information) to secret level, according to a report from Politico on Tuesday. Reuters also reported that Kushner has lost access to the president’s daily briefing, a daily digest of intelligence updates.
The news comes days after Chief of Staff John Kelly announced plans to overhaul the Trump administration’s security clearance process for staff in a February 16 memo in the wake of the Rob Porter scandal.
Kushner has not been granted permanent security clearance. Perhaps part of the reason is that he has repeatedly made amendments to forms detailing his contacts with foreign officials and financial assets. He’s also claimed to have forgotten vital information in his dealings with Congress and the ongoing Russia probe.
Finally, he is reportedly