Jared Kushner’s diplomatic role complicated by his financial ties

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Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, at the end of a diplomatic trip to Israel in May. Shortly before, Kushner Companies received a $30 million investment from one of Israel’s largest financial institutions, Menora Mivtachim. (photo: Mandel Ngan / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

Kushner continues to do business with major Israeli investors, and continues to donate to West Bank settlements.

By Jesse Drucker | The New York Times | Jan 7, 2018


“The ethics laws were not crafted by people who had the foresight to imagine a Donald Trump or a Jared Kushner. No one could ever imagine this scale of ongoing business interests . . . that give the president and his top adviser personal economic stakes in an astounding number of policy interests.”
— Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit government ethics group


Last May, Jared Kushner accompanied President Trump, his father-in-law, on the pair’s first diplomatic trip to Israel, part of Mr. Kushner’s White House assignment to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Shortly before, his family real estate company received a roughly $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim, an insurer that is one of Israel’s largest financial institutions, according to a Menora executive.

The deal, which was not made public, pumped significant new equity into 10 Maryland apartment complexes controlled by Mr. Kushner’s firm. While Mr. Kushner has sold parts of his business since taking a White House job last year, he still has stakes in most of the family empire — including the apartment buildings in and around Baltimore.

The business dealings don’t appear to violate federal ethics laws, which require Mr. Kushner to recuse himself only from narrow government decisions that would have a “direct and predictable effect” on his financial interests. And no evidence has emerged that Mr. Kushner was personally involved in brokering the deal.

But the deal last spring illustrates how the Kushner Companies’ extensive financial ties to Israel continue to deepen, even with his prominent diplomatic role in the Middle East. The arrangement could undermine the ability of the United States to be seen as an independent broker in the region. The Trump administration already inflamed tensions there when it said last month that it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the United States Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

“I think it’s reasonable for people to ask whether his business interests are somehow affecting his judgment,” said Matthew T. Sanderson, a lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington who specializes in government ethics and was general counsel to Senator Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.

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