Joaquin Castro kicks off investigation into abuse of power by Jared Kushner

by | Dec 10, 2020 | Foreign Affairs, Politics

Rep. Joaquin Castro announced Wednesday that he would begin investigating potential conflicts of interest and abuse of power by Jared Kushner, senior advisor and son-in-law to President Trump.

Castro, the vice-chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of its Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee launched the joint investigation alongside Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Given Jared Kushner’s refusal to properly divest from his family’s business, it is crucial that Congress gain an understanding of whether and how his personal financial interests or those of his family may have impacted U.S. foreign policy in the Trump Administration,” Castro and Wyden wrote in a letter to the White House Counsel’s Office.

The congressional probe hopes to discover whether Kushner or his family’s real estate company, Kushner Companies, benefited from Kushner’s senior position in the White House and his influence over President Trump in foreign policy matters relating to Qatar — a former potential buyer to the family’s financially ailing flagship property, a skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue, New York. 

The property was purchased to the tune of $1.8 billion in 2007 but quickly lost value amid the financial crisis. Kushner spent the next several years seeking a buyer to cover the debt of the building. 

In April 2017 Kushner’s father, Charles, approached the government of Qatar to attempt to negotiate payment for the building’s mortgage, reported The Intercept. The New Yorker later revealed that the Qatari government backed out of the deal citing “dubious business logic.” Weeks later, Kushner would support a blockade of Qatar led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. 

“This sequence of events, especially the stunning reversal in U.S. policy towards Qatar, raises serious questions about what role Jared Kushner—and the financial interests of his family—may have played in influencing U.S. foreign policy regarding the blockade,” members wrote in their letter to White House counsel. 

In 2018, The New York Times reported that the Kushner property and its looming $1.4 billion mortgage payment was rescued by a bailout from Brookfield Asset Management, a major investment company with ties to Qatar Investment Authority. 

On Wednesday, Wyden and Castro also penned a letter to Brookfield Asset Management inquiring over documents, communications, and meeting over the deal. 

“While Brookfield has claimed that Qatari representatives had no involvement in the 666 Fifth Avenue transaction, we remain troubled that Qatari funds ended up in a billion dollar rescue for a company directly tied to Mr. Kushner while he remained a senior White House official deeply involved in formulation of U.S. policy towards the Middle East,” they wrote to the investment company. 

The congressional probe comes days after Kushner traveled to Saudi Arabia to ease tensions between the Kingdom and Qatar. 

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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