White House ‘not probing whether Jared Kushner violated the law’
The White House on Tuesday downplayed reports it is investigating more than $500 million in loans made last year to presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate firm.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said White House attorneys are “not probing whether Jared Kushner violated the law” by taking meetings with executives whose companies later loaned large sums to his family’s business.
“While the White House counsel’s office does follow up with staff to assist with compliance with various ethics standards, it is not probing whether Jared Kushner violated the law,” Sanders said.
The White House informed the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) that it is aware of news reports regarding the loans and “would proceed as appropriate,” according to Sanders.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the head of the OGE informed a Democratic lawmaker that the White House was examining whether ethics rules or criminal laws were broken in Kushner’s dealings.
Kushner’s firm, which is run by members of his family, accepted a $184 million loan from Apollo Global Management’s real estate division and a $325 million loan from Citigroup. Both loans were made after Kushner met with top executives from each firm at the White House, according to The New York Times.
“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,” acting OGE Director David Apol wrote last week to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.)
Kushner’s private attorney, Abbe Lowell, told the Journal that after looking into reports about the loans, “the White House counsel concluded there were no issues involving Jared.”
That explanation did not satisfy the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), who along with Krishnamoorthi requested documents related to the White House’s internal investigation.
Asked if the White House would comply with the request, Sanders said “we don’t have anything further” beyond the statement she delivered.
The investigation is the latest headache for Kushner, whose standing has been damaged by a swirl of negative headlines over the past month.
The White House recently downgraded Kushner’s top secret security clearance after it was revealed he did not pass a background check.
His personal finances are a subject of interest for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation, and New York state officials.
The Washington Post reported last month that foreign governments have tried to use the 37-year-old’s lack of government experience and business ties to gain leverage over him.
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