Who Is Jared Kushner?
Jared Kushner, born on January 10, 1981, in Livingston, New Jersey, is the son of real estate developer Charles Kushner. When his father was imprisoned amid financial and political scandal, Kushner took over the family business and also went into publishing with his purchase of The New York Observer. In 2009, he wed Ivanka Trump, daughter of another real estate mogul, Donald Trump. Kushner served as a close political advisor to Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign and his transition to the White House. He was named a senior adviser to the president in January 2017.
Jared Kushner was born on January 10, 1981 in Livingston, New Jersey. He is one of four children of Charles Kushner, a billionaire real estate developer who was also a major financial supporter of the Democratic Party and various charities. After attending the Frisch School, a yeshiva high school in Paramus, New Jersey, the younger Kushner went on to Harvard University and graduated in 2003. (A journalist would later report that Kushner, who had a modest academic record in high school, was granted admission to Harvard after his father offered an endowment to the university. A spokeperson for Kushner Companies responded to the allegation saying it “is and always has been false.)
In 2005, Charles Kushner plead guilty to crimes that included tax evasion and witness tampering, as well as making illegal political campaign donations. He received a two-year prison sentence. The elder Kushner was prosecuted by then U.S. attorney and future New Jersey governor Chris Christie, with whom Jared would later work as part of an advisory team for Donald Trump’s presidential run.
When Charles Kushner was in prison, Jared took over the real estate business while maintaining a close relationship to his father. In 2006, Jared Kushner purchased The New York Observer and became a publisher while only in his mid-20s. The following year he made news again with his purchase of a Manhattan office building at 666 Fifth Avenue for the then record sum of $1.8 billion. Kushner became the CEO of Kushner Companies in 2008.
Marriage to Ivanka Trump
After dating for almost two years, Kushner wed Ivanka Trump, daughter of Ivana and Donald Trump, in October 2009 in Bedminster, New Jersey. The couple have three children — Arabella, Joseph and Theodore. Ivanka also converted to Orthodox Judaism, which is Kushner’s faith.
Adviser to Donald Trump
Despite coming from a Democratic family, Kushner became a key adviser to Trump as he campaigned to become the Republican nominee for president in 2016. Kushner reportedly worked with Trump on various campaign activities, including merchandising, crafting speeches, social media outreach and the selection of Indiana governor Mike Pence as the vice presidential candidate.
In one election controversy, Kushner, along with Trump’s eldest children, had successfully called for the dismissal of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Kushner found himself involved in another political storm during the summer when Trump tweeted a meme, originally posted on an alt-right message board, labeling Hillary Clinton as highly corrupt with an image evocative of the Star of David and money in the background. An uproar ensued over the anti-Semitic implications of the post. Kushner defended Trump via the Observer and said his father-in-law was not an anti-Semite, stating that the presidential candidate should not be blamed for messaging from supporters who harbor hate-filled, destructive views.
After Trump won the presidential election on November 8, 2016, Kushner became a central part of his transition team. Despite the speculation that Kushner would return to his personal business ventures post-election, it was reported that he had sought legal counsel about the possibility of joining Trump’s administration in some capacity. As a close family member, he faced a possible breach of strict nepotism restrictions in the executive branch, as well as financial conflicts of interest. In 2016, the Kushner family net worth was estimated to be $1.8 billion, the majority of which was in real-estate property holdings, according to Forbes.
In January 2017, Donald Trump's transition team announced that Kushner would be named as a senior adviser to the president.
On July 24, 2017, Kushner met with Senate Intelligence Committee staff to explain his contact with Russians as part of an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Prior to the meeting, Kushner released an 11-page statement in which he denied collusion with the Russian government. He also provided details of four meetings he had with Russians during the presidential campaign and Trump’s transition to the White House, including two interactions with the Russian ambassador, a meeting with a Russian banker and another meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. with a Russian lawyer who offered compromising information about presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.
Kusher denied improper contact during these meetings, stating: "I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government.”
In early November, CNN reported that Kushner had turned over documents to special counsel Robert Mueller, who was leading his own expansive investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. According to CNN's sources, Mueller's investigators were looking into Kushner's role in the May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Kushner soon found himself in the sights of the Senate Judiciary Committee again, over his forwarding of emails that included mention of WikiLeaks and a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite." Although other parties had included those emails in submitted documents, Kushner failed to do so.
Senators Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein addressed the issue in a letter to Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell, writing, “We appreciate your voluntary cooperation with the Committee’s investigation, but the production appears to have been incomplete.” They asked Kushner to turn over any missing documents by November 27.
Lowell replied with a statement that his client had previously complied with their requests. “We provided the Judiciary Committee with all relevant documents that had to do with Mr. Kushner's calls, contacts or meetings with Russians during the campaign and transition," he said.
Additional legal problems surfaced in December, when a Washington attorney filed a lawsuit over illegal omissions from Kushner's public financial disclosure forms. According to the suit, both Kushner and Ivanka Trump had neglected to identify the assets owned by numerous investment firms that retained their business, as well as the income derived from two investment vehicles. A White House spokesman dismissed the lawsuit as "frivolous," saying the disclosures of the two presidential advisers satisfied all legal requirements.
Intelligence and Security Issues
According to a January 2018 Wall Street Journal article, counterintelligence officials had warned Kushner that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a Chinese-American businesswoman and the former wife of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, might leverage her friendship with him to aid Chinese government interests. Murdoch subsequently denied involvement in such endeavors and knowledge of any intelligence agency concerns.
In late February 2018, following Chief of Staff John Kelly's announcement that he would overhaul the security clearance process for White House personnel, Kushner’s interim status was downgraded from the top-secret to the secret level, due to the fact that he had yet to receive final clearance. The change was certain to affect the list of responsibilities for Kushner, who previously had access to highly classified information and often accompanied the president on his trips abroad.
Shortly afterward, The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials had intercepted conversations from members of at least four foreign governments—China, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Israel—about ways in which they could take advantage of Kushner's business dealings and lack of foreign policy experience. According to the report, some in the White House were concerned that Kushner was "naive and being tricked" in conversations with foreign officials.
Security issues notwithstanding, Kushner soon joined a delegation that met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss matters of security, immigration and trade. The visit was scheduled after Peña Nieto abruptly canceled his planned trip to Washington.
Questionable Housing Documents and Loans
In March 2018, news surfaced of Kushner's former real-estate business, the Kushner Cos., filing false reports with New York City in order to skirt rent-control laws. According to the Housing Rights Initiative, the Kushner Cos. submitted at least 80 false applications for construction permits in 34 buildings across the city from 2013 to 2016; the applications indicated that there were no rent-regulated tenants, when in fact there were more than 300.
Additionally, some residents complained of construction at all hours after Kushner bought the buildings, which they believed was part of an effort to drive them out and allow the company to hike up rents for new tenants.
The Kushner Cos. responded by saying it outsources the preparation of the reports to third parties, and takes immediate corrective steps when mistakes are discovered. "Kushner would never deny any tenant their due-process rights," said the company in a statement.
Around that time, The New York Times reported that Citigroup had lent Kushner Cos. and one of its partners $325 million in 2017 after Citigroup’s CEO, Michael Corbat, met with Kushner in the White House. The revelation prompted Democratic lawmakers to request documentation from Kushner Cos., and set off a White House investigation into whether its former head violated any criminal laws or regulations with his actions.
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