Trump lawyers wanted Kushner to step down over Russia probe: report Several of President Trump's lawyers advised him earlier this summer that White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner should step down from his role over potential legal complications with the ongoing Russia investigation, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Sources familiar with the matter told the Journal that some of Trump's lawyers were concerned about Kushner, who had several meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, and brought those concerns to Trump himself.
Press aides to Trump's legal team allegedly even went so far as to draft a statement explaining why Kushner was leaving the White House.
The statement, meant to be issued by Kushner, blamed a toxic political environment for turning Kushner's meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign into an attack on Trump.
That meeting, which was also attended by Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, was reportedly a central concern of Trump's lawyers.
The meeting came when Trump's campaign team was offered potentially damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Kushner appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July to speak about the meeting, which he called a "waste of our time."
The head of Trump's legal team, John Dowd, said he didn't agree with Trump's other lawyers in their assessment of Kushner.
"I didn't agree with that view at all. I thought it was absurd," Dowd told The Journal. "I made my views known."
Trump reportedly held the same view, with one source telling the newspaper that the president thought Kushner had done nothing wrong and had no reason to step down.
Trump's lawyers were also worried Kushner may create legal problems for others in the White House by discussing the Russia investigation with other aides or with Trump without a lawyer present.
The president's lawyers also expressed concern over Kushner's federal disclosure forms, which the senior adviser has updated multiple times since his initial filing, adding more than 100 names to a list of foreign individuals he has had contact with.
Lawsuit: Kushner Cos. charges illegal fees to its tenants 1 / 20
By BERNARD CONDON and JULIET LINDERMAN, Associated Press
30 mins ago
BALTIMORE — The real estate company run by the family of Jared Kushner is being sued by two tenants in Maryland for allegedly adding excessive and illegal fees to their rent.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in the Circuit Court of Baltimore alleges that businesses owned by the Kushner Cos. have been charging 5 percent late payments, not just for what they claim to be late rent, but also to larger amounts that include "agent fees" and "court fees" in violation of Maryland law. The lawsuit describes the charges as part of a "fee churning scheme" that keeps renters under constant fear of eviction, and guessing as to what they owe.
The lawsuit is seeking class action status.
The Kushner Cos. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The suit was filed on behalf of Tenae Smith, a mother of two living in Dutch Village apartments, and Howard Smith, who lives in Carroll Park Apartments in Baltimore County. The complexes are managed by Westminster Management, a subsidiary of Kushner Cos., which is also an owner under various other names.
Jared Kushner stepped down as CEO of Kushner Cos. earlier this year before becoming a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.
Andrew Freeman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said Westminster Management operates roughly 17 complexes in Maryland with thousands of units, though the lawsuit would apply only to those who have been required to pay illegal fees in the past three years. Freeman said he has spoken to several tenants about possibly joining the suit, but couldn't provide a specific number.
"We think it's outrageous that landlords charge improper fees to their tenants, and we think it's doubly outrageous when they then misallocate rent payments to those fees in order to generate more fees," he said. "We think it's triply outrageous when they then extort the payment of those fees from tenants by threatening to evict them if they don't pay. It's egregious when any landlord does this. And it's particularly egregious when a company affiliated with Mr. Kushner does it."
Earlier this year, Democratic lawmakers requested thousands of pages of documents pertaining to properties owned by Kushner Cos. in Maryland. U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Anthony Brown, sent a letter to Kushner Cos. to remind them that the company must comply with Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations because it receives federal rental subsidies.
Do you really think Daddy cares more about this country than himself and his own family? When he appointed two family members to the cabinet and made Jared Czar of just about everything that might have been a tip off.
When half the cabinet has been fired, in many cases for lesser screw-ups, but Jared and Ivanka stick around, that's another clue.
America is Donald's plaything.
“Kelly Has Clipped his Wings”: Jared Kushner’s Horizons Are Collapsing within the West Wing
14 hrs ago
When Donald Trump appointed John Kelly as chief of staff in July, the four-star Marine general arrived with a mandate to bring order to a freewheeling West Wing. Gone are the days of staffers waltzing into the Oval Office to lobby the president on policy or supply him with gossip. Trump still tweets, of course, but for the most part Kelly’s cleanup has been successful, according to interviews with a half dozen Trump advisers, current and former West Wing officials, and Republicans close to the administration. The aide who has ceded the most influence in the Kelly era, these people said, is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. “Kelly has clipped his wings,” one high-level Republican in frequent contact with the White House told me.
It’s perhaps hard to remember now, but it wasn’t long ago when Trump handed Kushner a comically broad portfolio that included plans to reinvent government, reform the V.A., end the opioid epidemic, run point on China, and solve Middle East peace. But since his appointment, according to sources, Kelly has tried to shrink Kushner’s responsibilities to focus primarily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And even that brief appears to be creating tensions between Kushner and Kelly. According to two people close to the White House, Kelly was said to be displeased with the result of Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia last month because it took place just days before 32-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrested 11 Saudi royals, including billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The Washington Postreported that Kushner and M.B.S., as the prince is known, stayed up till nearly 4 a.m. “planning strategy,” which left Kelly to deal with the impression that the administration had advance knowledge of the purge and even helped orchestrate it, sources told me. (Asked about this, Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded, in part: “Chief Kelly and Jared had a good laugh about this inquiry as nothing in it is true.”)
Where this all leaves Kushner in Trump’s ever-changing orbit is a topic that’s being discussed by Republicans close to the White House. During Kelly’s review of West Wing operations over the summer, the chief of staff sought to downsize Kushner’s portfolio, two sources said. In the early days of the administration, sometimes with the help of a small cadre of Ivy League whiz kids who staff his Office of American Innovation, Kushner dreamed up scores of business “councils” that would advise the White House. “The councils are gone,” one West Wing official told me. With some of their purview being whittled away, “they seem lost,” the official added.
As Kushner’s Russia troubles mount—last Friday the Senate disclosed that he had not turned over e-mails about WikiLeaks, a claim his attorney, Abbe Lowell,denied—insiders are again speculating, as my colleague Emily Jane Foxreported last month, about how long Kushner and Ivanka Trump will remain in Washington. Despite Kushner’s efforts to project confidence about Robert Mueller’s probe, he expressed worry after the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates about how far the investigation could go. “Do you think they’ll get the president?” Kushner asked a friend, according to a person briefed on the conversation.
According to two Republicans who have spoken with Trump, the president has also been frustrated with Kushner’s political advice, including his encouragement to back losing Alabama G.O.P. candidate Luther Strange and to fire F.B.I. Director James Comey, which Kushner denies. (For what it’s worth, Kushner’s choice of Strange prevented Trump from the embarrassment of inadvertently supporting Roy Moore.) Trump, according to three people who’ve spoken to him, has advocated for Jared and Ivanka to return to New York in part because they are being damaged by negative press. “He keeps pressuring them to go,” one source close to Kushner told me. But as bad as the Russia investigation may be, it’s not clear a New York homecoming would be much better for Kushner, given that his family’s debt-ridden office tower at 666 Fifth Avenue could be headed for bankruptcy.
This article has been updated to include a comment from the White House.
Mueller’s Russia investigation expands to Kushner’s deep Israel ties RT America
Published on Nov 22, 2017
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is looking into President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, and his contact with foreign leaders leading up to the 2016 election. The investigation is reportedly focusing on Kushner’s supposed role in a United Nations vote to condemn Israel for its settlement practices in occupied territories. Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal discusses the probe with RT America’s Ashlee Banks.
WSJ: Robert Mueller Investigating Jared Kushner's Foreign Contacts With Russia | Morning Joe | MSNBC MSNBC
Published on Nov 22, 2017
Robert Mueller's investigation is digging deeper into Jared Kushner’s contacts with Russian and Israeli leaders during the transition and Kushner's role in the Comey firing, according to a new WSJ report. Peter Baker joins the conversation.
A month ago, Jared Kushner — President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser — made a surprise trip to Riyadh to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the fellow son of a world leader who is making waves with crackdowns and modernization efforts.
Kushner, 36, flew commercial and the White House only announced the visit once he was already on the ground. There were no news releases touting the specifics of his meetings, which included two days of one-on-one and small private audiences with Salman, 32. White House officials said the trip was part of Kushner's effort as Trump's adviser to build regional support for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Just days after Kushner landed back in Washington, Salman launched a purge of allegedly corrupt Saudi officials also seen as rivals to the prince and his father, King Salman. Kushner had no knowledge or advance warning of the move, and the topic was not natural for the two to discuss, a White House official close to him said. "Jared's portfolio is Israeli-Palestinian peace, and he respects what his lane is," the official said.
The journey revealed Kushner as a figure who seems both near the center of power and increasingly marginalized at the same time. His once sprawling White House portfolio, which included walk-in privileges to the Oval Office, has been diminished to its original scope under Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and he has notably receded from public view.
His still-evolving role in the investigations of Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice also make him a potential risk to President Trump, even as he enjoys the special status of being married to the boss's daughter, Ivanka, and serving as one of the president's senior confidants. Kushner's family faces additional pressures over a troubled New York City skyscraper at 666 Fifth Ave., which he purchased in his role as head of his family's real estate business but which he has divested from since entering the administration.
In a rare interview in his West Wing office earlier this month — a silver bowl of Halloween candy still on the table — Kushner offered his own version of the fable of the fox, who knows many things, and the hedgehog, who knows one important thing.
"During the campaign, I was more like a fox than a hedgehog. I was more of a generalist having to learn about and master a lot of skills quickly," he said. "When I got to D.C., I came with an understanding that the problems here are so complex — and if they were easy problems, they would have been fixed before — and so I became more like the hedgehog, where it was more taking issues you care deeply about, going deep and devoting the time, energy and resources to trying to drive change."
This portrait of Kushner comes from interviews with Kushner himself, as well as 12 senior administration officials, aides, outside advisers and confidants, some of them demanding anonymity to offer a more candid assessment.
Allies say Kushner's subtle shift into the background of the West Wing reflects his natural inclination to work hard and eschew the limelight, while his enemies gloat that it stems from a series of avoidable missteps that are the result of his political naivete. Following recent reports, which the White House denied, that the president privately blames Kushner for Mueller's widening probe, Breitbart, the conservative website, snarkily dubbed him, "Mr. Perfect."
Some aides scoff at the notion that Kushner isn't still whispering to the president about official business. But one of Kelly's conditions for taking the job was that everyone, including Kushner and his wife, had to go through him to reach the president, and Kelly has made clear that Kushner reports to him, aides said.
The new hierarchy is part of Kelly's effort to sideline Kushner, said one Republican in frequent contact with the White House, though others say the order Kelly has imposed has simply liberated Kushner to focus on his own portfolio — and eased some of the animosity his colleagues felt toward him.
Kushner said he welcomes the change. "The order allows this place to function," Kushner said. "My number one priority is a high functioning White House, because I believe in the president's agenda, and I think it should get executed."
He still maintains the broad portfolio he took on at the beginning of the administration that made him a punchline among aides on Capitol Hill: Peace in the Middle East, as well as Canada, Mexico, and China, and overseeing the Office of American Innovation, an in-house group that focuses on tackling longer-term government challenges.
He attends meetings of his innovation group once a week, often on a Tuesday or Wednesday for an hour-long check-in and progress update. The innovation office launched with great fanfare in March, but some aides recently said they could not pinpoint exactly what it has accomplished.
Kushner and his allies reject that assessment, saying the office is focused on long-term projects. They say, for example, that the group helped the Department of Veterans Affairs launch their electronic medical records initiative in June, with Kushner expediting the process by calling Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and asking him to send over people from his department to help.
"If I ever get into a roadblock, we just elevate it to Jared," said Chris Liddell, a senior White House official who works in the innovation office. "He's great at saying, 'Can't we get so-and-so to come over?' and we get it done on the spot."
Kushner is one of the advisers helping on negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, and he accompanied Trump on the first half of his Asia trip earlier this month.
But the main focus for Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, is working to bring peace in the Middle East — a task that has bedeviled negotiators far more experienced in the region for generations. What Kushner brings to the effort, say several senior White House officials, is personal relationships with players on all sides and a willingness to bet on long shot outcomes.
Before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Trump at the White House in September, Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt met him at the Mandarin Oriental for a two-hour breakfast. More recently, on Halloween, Kushner suggested that he and Greenblatt visit Saeb Erekat, the lead Palestinian peace negotiator, at the apartment in Virginia where he is recuperating from a lung transplant. After briefly considering, and then nixing, wine — Erekat is Muslim — Kushner ultimately brought chocolate.
"This is very much a human conflict and a human-to-human relationship," Greenblatt said. "When you're able to touch somebody and talk about it, it's a meaningful engagement. It takes a certain personality and Jared has that touch."
Yet snags persist. A week ago, the Palestinians threatened to freeze all contact with the Trump administration after the State Department said the Palestine Liberation Organization's office in Washington could not remain open — a decision it backtracked on Friday.
And Kushner's friendship with Mohammed bin Salman raised questions after the crown prince's anti-corruption campaign — which critics paint as an attempt to consolidate power, but devotees say is part of his efforts as a reformer — as well as concerns from some that Saudi Arabia now feels further emboldened within the region.
The Mueller probe, meanwhile, is entering a new phase, with the special counsel announcing two indictments at the end of last month — including for Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort — while investigators begin to interview people close to the president's inner circle. Kushner has turned over documents to the House and Senate committees investigating possible collusion between Russia and Trump's campaign, though in a letter, the Senate Judiciary Committee recently complained that Kushner had not been fully forthcoming — a charge his lawyer denies.
So far, Mueller has filed no court documents to suggest Kushner is in legal jeopardy, but people close to the case say investigators have been looking at his meetings with Russians before and after the election, as well as his role in discussions that led to the firing of FBI director James B. Comey.
The news on Thanksgiving that former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn's lawyers had notified Trump's legal team that they could no longer share information about the Russia probe prompted speculation that Flynn may now be cooperating with Mueller — a potentially perilous sign for the president and his associates.
But friends say Kushner is even-keeled about the investigations. For him, they said, the most stressful moments came in May, amid news reports that he had tried to establish a secret back-channel with Russia during the transition, and that the FBI was probing his actions. He was frustrated, a White House official said, that he couldn't respond to the allegations until he went to be interviewed by Congress.
"Jared is an extraordinary calm person," said H.R. McMaster, the White House national security adviser. "I have never seen him distracted."
He huddled with his lawyers for hours in the run-up to his testimony before Congress, but is in less frequent daily contact now unless something from Mueller's probe specifically requires his attention, one White House official said.
Kushner's detractors point to his role in the Russia probe as another sign of his poor political skills and continued risk to the president. A Republican close to the White House said that Kushner "has no judgment — never has and never will."
But in some ways, Kushner appears more protected from the daily sniping that plagued the early months of Trump's presidency. Over the summer, a trio of advisers who were rivals to Kushner were pushed out of the West Wing: Stephen K. Bannon, then the president's chief strategist who now runs Breitbart; Reince Priebus, the chief of staff; and Sean Spicer, the press secretary.
"He no longer is in an environment where he has an actual predator," said one White House official, likening Kushner to Bannon's regular prey. "That has probably helped his working environment some."
Kushner, with his whispery voice, has also proven one of the few people adept at absorbing Trump's anger. He can speak to Trump in a shared language of transaction from their days in the New York real estate world.
"I don't try to manage him," Kushner said. "I try to give him my honest feedback. If he asks my advice on something, sometimes I'll give it, sometimes I'll say, 'Let me go call a few people,' and then I'll give it."
McMaster said Kushner sometimes acts as a translator between his father-in-law, the president, and his senior advisers. "He helped a lot of us learn faster what's important to the president," McMaster said. "His relationship with the president makes Jared valuable as an adviser to the president, and also as an adviser to the president's advisers."
When Kushner's family first arrived in Washington, they agreed they would assess after six months whether they intended to stay. Trump himself has mused privately about the hit his daughter and son-in-law's reputation is taking because of their White House roles and about what a great and easy life they had back in New York. Others have questioned why someone like Kushner would put himself in Mueller's crosshairs by remaining in government.
But when the couple reassessed in July, they reached a decision. "We're here to stay," Kushner said. "At the current moment, we're charging forward."
He added, "My wife asked me the other day if we should be looking at new houses, so that's a good sign."
President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is the "very senior member" of the president's transition team who told Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials about a United Nations resolution before Trump took office, multiple news outlets reported Friday.
Bloomberg News first reported that Kushner was the senior member mentioned in court documents filed by special counsel Robert Mueller in the case against Flynn. NBC News and CNN also reported that Kushner was the transition official mentioned in court documents.
Flynn, who resigned as national security adviser in February, weeks after Trump entered office, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian officials. As part of the plea deal, Flynn has agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller's investigation.
Two former Trump transition officials told Bloomberg that Kushner ordered Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador and ambassadors from other countries in an attempt to stop a U.N. Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlement activity.
Kushner told Flynn he needed to get ambassadors and foreign minsters to commit to delay or vote against the resolution. According to prosecutors, then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak gave Flynn that assurance.
Then-president elect Trump publicly called for the U.N. to veto the resolution, calling it "extremely unfair to all Israelis."
The resolution, which was put forth in December 2016 during the final days of the Obama administration, ultimately passed after the United States abstained from vetoing it.
Bloomberg reports that the effort to delay or stop the resolution was also apparently coordinated with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mueller's team of investigators is looking into Kushner's contact with foreign leaders, including his involvement in the U.N. resolution and his role in setting up meetings and communications with foreign leaders during Trump's transition.
Kushner also reportedly met with Mueller's team last month to discuss Flynn.
ABC News reported Friday that Flynn is expected to testify that Trump "directed him to make contact with the Russians" shortly after the election.
The former national security adviser is also reportedly prepared to testify against members of Trump's family and White House officials.
Flynn becomes the first person to hold a formal position in the Trump administration to be charged in the probe, which is examining Trump campaign associates' ties to Russia.
Russia investigation sheds new light on Jared Kushner's involvement with Moscow
Tribune Washington Bureau
By David S. Cloud and Chris Megerian, Tribune Washington Bureau
13 hrs ago
WASHINGTON - The expanding federal investigation into Russian interference in last year's election is shining new light on the central role played by one member of Donald Trump's inner circle - his son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner - in reaching out to Moscow.
The latest disclosure - that even before Trump took office Kushner directed campaign foreign policy adviser Michael T. Flynn to try to persuade Russia to quash a United Nations resolution - is one example of numerous Kushner contacts with Moscow and meetings with Russian intermediaries now under scrutiny by investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller.
Kushner, a former Manhattan real estate developer and Washington neophyte, may be key as Mueller pursues the mystery of whether Trump's campaign had improper dealings with Russia, a charge that Kushner denies.
Revelations about Kushner's Russia contacts have been dribbling out for the months, forcing Kushner and other Trump aides who denied or downplayed them to repeatedly backtrack.
But with Flynn now cooperating with Mueller's investigators, Kushner's role handling outreach to foreign governments for Trump is likely to get even more scrutiny from investigators. Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his own Russia contacts.
Publicly Trump insists he is not worried, telling reporters Saturday there had been "absolutely no collusion" with Moscow, but adding, "We'll see what happens."
In the wake of Flynn's plea deal, Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence committees said they wanted Kushner, who appeared in private before both panels last July, to return to answer new questions about his dealings with Russian officials and intermediaries from Moscow.
"Mike Flynn wasn't acting as a free agent. He was acting at the behest of very senior people close to the president or the president himself," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "If Mr. Kushner was involved in that, he'd have a lot of tell us that he hasn't told us so far."
Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, declined to comment on Kushner's Russia contacts.
Kushner has described himself as an overworked and inexperienced campaign aide who was "forced to make changes on the fly" when it came to Russia.
"I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so," Kushner said last July after a closed-door meeting with investigators from the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trump cycled through a cadre of high-level aides during the presidential campaign, but Kushner remained a trusted adviser with one particularly unassailable credential - he is family through his marriage to Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka.
After running his real estate company like a family business, Trump saw no reason to change course while campaigning or after winning the White House. Kushner joined the administration and received a vast portfolio of responsibilities, including overhauling the federal government with the newly created Office of American Innovation and pursuing a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
He has insisted that his initial failure to report his meetings with the Russians or any other foreigners on forms required for a government security clearance was not deliberate. He blamed an aide who he said had mistakenly submitted the form, known as a SF-86, before it was complete, and that he later updated it.
As a trusted adviser, Kushner was the intermediary with foreign officials, a role that led to several contacts with Russian officials, either directly or through intermediaries.
According to court papers disclosed on Friday, Flynn was directed by a "very senior member" of Trump's transition team - identified by a former official as Kushner - to lobby Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and officials from other foreign governments in an attempt to delay or defeat a United Nations Security Council resolution critical of Israel in December 2016.
Trump had publicly opposed the resolution, saying it "puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis."
But the Trump team's attempts to block the resolution was at odds with the position taken by the Obama administration, which still occupied the White House and planned to let the resolution pass.
The attempts to influence the vote, which a person familiar with the transition described as a collaborative endeavor by multiple high-ranking members of Trump's team, did not succeed. Kislyak said Russia would not vote against the resolution, which passed after the United States abstained.
Earlier that month, at a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Kislyak asked Kushner whether the Trump transition office had a secure telephone line that Trump's aides could use to talk to Russian generals about the war in Syria.
Because none was available, Kushner said he asked about using one at the Russian Embassy instead to conduct "direct discussions" with Moscow.
He said that after Kislyak, who was recalled to Moscow last summer, told him that was impossible, they agreed to follow up after the inauguration. Kushner did not explain why the Trump team did not simply ask to use a secure U.S. government line.
In contrast to Flynn, who admitted this week in court that he and Kislyak had discussed U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration, Kushner has said that he did not discuss lifting the sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in 2014 after Putin's government annexed Crimea.
Kushner met Kislyak in April 2016 at a foreign policy speech by Trump at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.
Kushner also held a Dec. 13 meeting with Sergey Gorkov, head of the state-owned Vnesheconombank, Russia's national development bank. He said he took the meeting at Kislyak's urging because Gorkov had a "direct relationship" with Putin.
The Russian bank described the session in March as part of a new outreach to "a number of representatives of the largest banks and business establishments of the United States, including Jared Kushner, the head of Kushner Companies." Kushner, by contrast, said he and Gorkov did not discuss "private business of any kind."
In testimony to Congress last summer, Kushner also denied having any contact with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, during the campaign, according to a statement from his lawyer, and said he could not recall anyone from the campaign having such contacts.
WikiLeaks was responsible for releasing hacked emails that U.S. intelligence agencies say were obtained through Russia's attempt to interfere with the presidential election.
But Kushner was forced to backtrack when the Atlantic magazine revealed last month that the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., forwarded a message from WikiLeaks to Kushner and others.
Lowell said his client did not respond to the email and was not in touch with WikiLeaks.
"Mr. Kushner had no contacts with that organization," he wrote in a letter this month to the Senate Judiciary Committee after the panel's bipartisan leadership requested more documents from him.
Kushner also attended a June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney introduced to Trump Jr. as "a Russian government attorney" who was part of "its government's support for Mr. Trump."
The emails said she could provide documents that "would incriminate" Trump's Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and would be "very useful to your father." Kushner insisted he showed up the meeting without reading the emails about who she was and left early, calling it a "waste of time."
‘What we’re looking at is actually Israel-gate’ – journalist RT America
Published on Dec 4, 2017
While the mainstream media jumped on disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea “desperate to validate” a Russia-gate narrative, Max Blumenthal, senior writer for Alternet, discusses the “far less convenient” scrutiny now being paid to senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s Israeli connections.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who helped put Jared Kushner's father in prison, showed no mercy toward the senior White House adviser on Tuesday, encouraging Russia probe investigators to closely examine any hand he may have had in potential wrongdoings by the Trump campaign.
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law “deserves the scrutiny, you know why?” Christie said on MSNBC’s Deadline White House. “Because he was involved in the transition and involved in meetings that call into question his role.
“Well then if he’s innocent of that, then that will come out as (special counsel Robert) Mueller examines all the facts. And if he’s not, that will come out too,” Christie continued.
Kushner was the “very senior member” of the president’s transition team who ordered former national security adviser Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials to try to stop a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity before Trump was inaugurated, various news outlets reported earlier this month.
The Kushner connection came to light in court documents Mueller filed in the case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russians and has agreed to cooperate fully in the investigation. Flynn’s guilty plea likely jeopardized Kushner.
Furthermore, Kushner, along with the president’s oldest son Donald Trump Jr., and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in June 2016 reportedly met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer at Trump Tower who promised damaging information on opponent Hillary Clinton.
“Whether he deserves it or not, he’s getting it,” Christie said Tuesday of scrutiny on Kushner. “And the facts will determine that ultimately.”
Christie’s ruthlessness toward Kushner should not come as a surprise. As a U.S. attorney in the early 2000s, Christie prosecuted Kushner’s father, billionaire real estate developer Charles Kushner, for tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign donations, leading him to spend two years in federal prison.
In March, Christie denied that he and the younger Kushner have a tense relationship over his father’s sentence, claiming "that stuff is ancient history.”
An early Trump supporter, Christie served as chairman of Trump’s transition for about six months before being booted, a decision Christie recently called a “big mistake.”
Christie also said that Flynn has “been cooperating for a while” and showed support for Mueller’s probe. He added that Mueller has "made some mistakes but it doesn't mean it impugns the investigation's credibility."
“As I've said, (Mueller) is an honest guy,” Christie said. “I believe he will do an honest, fair investigation."
Kushner’s Financial Ties to Israel Deepen Even With Mideast Diplomatic Role
By JESSE DRUCKER
JAN. 7, 2018
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 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 Menora transaction is the latest financial arrangement that has surfaced between Mr. Kushner’s family business and Israeli partners, including one of the country’s wealthiest families and a large Israeli bank that is the subject of a United States criminal investigation.
The business dealings don’t appear to violate federal ethics laws, which only require Mr. Kushner to recuse himself 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.
Raj Shah, a deputy White House press secretary, said the Trump administration has “tremendous confidence in the job Jared is doing leading our peace efforts, and he takes the ethics rules very seriously and would never compromise himself or the administration.”
Christine Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Kushner Companies, said the company has partners around the world. It “does no business,” she said, “with foreign sovereigns or governments, and is not precluded from doing business with any foreign company simply because Jared is working in the government.
Menora, which is also Israel’s largest manager of pension funds, has done numerous other real estate deals, including several in the United States, said Ran Markman, Menora’s head of real estate. He said he had never met Mr. Kushner. In negotiating the deal with Kushner Companies, Mr. Markman said, he worked with Laurent Morali, the firm’s president.
The deal was “not done because of the so-called connections of Jared Kushner or Donald Trump,” Mr. Markman said. “The connection to the president was not an issue. It didn’t make us do the deal, it didn’t make us not do the deal.”
Mr. Kushner resigned as chief executive of Kushner Companies when he joined the White House last January. But he remains the beneficiary of a series of trusts that own stakes in Kushner properties and other investments. Those are worth as much as $761 million, according to government ethics filings, and most likely much more: The estimate nets out the significant debt accumulated by the firm, which has done about $7 billion of deals in the past decade.
The Baltimore-area buildings in which Menora invested were the subject of an article by a ProPublica reporter in the The New York Times Magazine last year that documented the poor living conditions and aggressive tactics used by Kushner Companies, including garnishing the bank accounts of low-income tenants and turning off heat and hot water.
The White House has said Mr. Kushner would work with his ethics advisers to ensure he recused himself from “any particular matter involving specific parties in which he has a business relationship with a party to the matter.”
It is unclear why Mr. Kushner hasn’t applied that same principle to the buildings in Maryland that received an investment from Menora.
Abbe D. Lowell, a lawyer for Mr. Kushner, said in a statement: “Jared Kushner has not been involved in, nor spoken about any Kushner Companies’ activities or project, since shortly before the Inauguration. He has an ethics agreement, reviewed by lawyers, with which he is in full compliance. Connecting any of his well-publicized trips to the Middle East to anything to do with Kushner Companies or its businesses is nonsensical and is a stretch to write a story where none actually exists.”
But Mr. Sanderson, the lawyer who specializes in government ethics, said, “Their standard seems like some version of ‘It’s a conflict when I think it’s a conflict, and I’ll make that judgment myself.’”
One issue, said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit government ethics group, is that “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, not in a local peanut farm or a hardware store but sprawling global businesses that give the president and his top adviser personal economic stakes in an astounding number of policy interests,” Mr. Weissman added.
The deal with Menora is one of many financial relationships that Kushner Companies has in Israel.
In April, The Times reported that the Kushners had teamed up with at least one member of Israel’s wealthy Steinmetz family to buy nearly $200 million of Manhattan apartment buildings, as well as to build a luxury rental tower in New Jersey. The family’s best-known member, Beny Steinmetz, is the subject of a United States Justice Department bribery investigation. Mr. Steinmetz has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Kushner’s company has also taken out at least four loans from Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim, which is the subject of a Justice Department investigation over allegations that it helped wealthy Americans evade taxes.
The firm also bought several floors of the former New York Times headquarters building in Manhattan from Lev Leviev, an Israeli businessman and philanthropist.
Mr. Kushner’s close relationship with Israeli officials has even come up in the investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Michael T. Flynn, the former Trump national security adviser, spoke with the Russian ambassador ahead of a United Nations Security Council vote to condemn Israel’s building of settlements in late 2016, according to court documents filed by Mr. Mueller’s office. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel had asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel, according to people briefed on the inquiry.
A “very senior member” of the presidential transition team directed Mr. Flynn to discuss the resolution, the court documents said. Mr. Trump’s lawyers believe that unnamed aide was Mr. Kushner, according to a lawyer briefed on the matter.
“A lot of people wonder whether the United States has ever been an honest broker in the Middle East, and given the positions of the Trump administration, it’s probably even more vulnerable to those claims,” said Richard W. Painter, who was the chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush and is a professor at the University of Minnesota law school.
Now, the United States is “sending over a special envoy who has already identified himself personally more with the hawkish views,” Mr. Painter said, and “he is getting money from wealthy citizens and businesses in one particular country.”
Mr. Painter added: “You’ve got a situation that is going to be abused by people who don’t like the United States. He’s going to make it that much worse.”
Irit Pazner Garshowitz and Matt Apuzzo contributed reporting.