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Something’s Rotten Here: Trump, Kushner and Qatar

Note: This statement was updated on May 17 to correct the name of the Kushner familiy member who reportedly was seeking funding from Qatar (item No. 2).

May 17, 2018

Something’s Rotten Here: Trump, Kushner and Qatar

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Or, more accurately, something is rotten in the state of Trump-Kushner.

The news that the Kushner family business will receive bailout funding for its distressed New York skyscraper from a company in which the Qatar Investment Authority is a major investor and partner on multiple multibillion-dollar real estate deals is jaw-dropping.

The lines between government policy and family business interests are now so hopelessly blurred that it’s virtually impossible to know the real motivations for Trump administration policy, or whether Trump or Kushner family and related business deals are predicated on Trump administration action. The past week’s events make it clear that foreign governments and giant corporations alike can’t distinguish between Trump and Kushner private family business and government policy – or believe it is a mistake to treat them as distinct categories.

An abbreviated Kushner-Trump-Qatar timeline makes this frighteningly clear.

  1. In April 2017, the Kushner family business met with the Qatari government to discuss financing for their distressed business at 666 Fifth Ave. in New York, according to the Intercept.

  2. Charles Kushner would subsequently confirm the meeting took place, according to the Washington Post. However, he claimed he took the meeting as a courtesy and that the family already had decided it would not accept funding from sovereign funds. The New Yorker reports that in fact Charles Kushner was seeking funding at the meeting.

  3. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries cut ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade. The Trump administration initially appeared divided over the conflict, but the president overtly sided with Saudi Arabia. Jared Kushner reportedly advocated for this position, according to the American Conservative and others.

  4. While Jared Kushner’s spokespeople vehemently denied any connection between a lack of Qatar funding for the 666 Fifth Avenue property and the administration’s position, NBC News and The New Yorker report that the Qataris themselves believed to the contrary.

  5. The Qatari government decided in January 2018 not to turn over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller evidence of claimed improper influence over Jared Kushner by UAE, according to NBC News.

  6. On May 17, 2018, the New York Times reports that a company, one of whose major investors is the Qatar Investment Authority, will provide a “bailout” of the Kushners’ 666 Fifth Avenue property.

This is a devil of a deal for 666 Fifth Avenue.