FILE PHOTO - White House senior advisor Jared Kushner arrives to join U.S. President Donald Trump and the rest of the U.S. delegation to meet with Saudi...
Jonathan Ernst

Scandal surrounding Jared Kushner grows more serious

The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/1/18, 9:00 PM ET

Trump nepotism causes strain within White House, security risks

Rachel Maddow looks at the strife within the White House as Donald Trump’s top White House staff come into conflict with unqualified family members Trump hired.
Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s young son-in-law, is having an unusually brutal week. It started in earnest with the loss of his White House security clearance, which will almost certainly impair his ability to do his job, and which stems from his difficulties under the scrutiny of an FBI background check.

Things got much worse when the Washington Post  reported that officials in at least four foreign countries concluded that Kushner’s financial difficulties and inexperience made him easy to manipulate. It didn’t help that White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster discovered that Kushner hadn’t coordinated – or even fully disclosed – some of his foreign contacts.

Making matters even more serious, the New York Times published this bombshell report on Wednesday night, which said Kushner’s family real-estate company received two enormous loans from two companies whose executives met with Jared Kushner as part of his White House duties.

As Rachel noted on the show last night, nobody’s denying that the loans were made; nobody’s denying that Kushner had a personal financial stake in the specific entities that received these giant loans; and nobody’s denying that the White House meetings took place with Kushner before those loans were made to his family’s company.

The result is a picture that looks awfully corrupt: a senior adviser to the president of the United States took meetings in the White House with companies who are seeking something from the White House, and then subsequently those companies shoveled hundreds of millions of dollars to that White House official and his family business.

But as bad as these developments looked, today’s NBC News report put Kushner in an even worse light:

Federal investigators are scrutinizing whether any of Jared Kushner’s business discussions with foreigners during the presidential transition later shaped White House policies in ways designed to either benefit or retaliate against those he spoke with, according to witnesses and other people familiar with the investigation.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has asked witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real estate properties, focusing specifically on his discussions during the transition with individuals from Qatar and Turkey, as well as Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, according to witnesses who have been interviewed as part of the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 election.

As part of the scrutiny of Kushner’s discussions with Turks, federal investigators have reached out to Turkish nationals for information on Kushner through the FBI’s legal attache office in Ankara, according to two people familiar with the matter. Separately, Qatari government officials visiting the U.S. in late January and early February considered turning over to Mueller what they believe is evidence of efforts by their country’s Persian Gulf neighbors in coordination with Kushner to hurt their country, four people familiar with the matter said. The Qatari officials decided against cooperating with Mueller for now out of fear it would further strain the country’s relations with the White House, these people said.

Be sure to read the whole NBC News account for the remarkable details.

Let’s note for context that a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday whether the president wants Kushner’s ouster. “No,” she replied. Pressed further for a reaction to Kushner’s controversies, Sanders added, “I would refer you to the statement that was put out by his attorney.”

Given the seriousness of the allegations, that’s almost certainly an untenable posture.

Scandals and White House

Scandal surrounding Jared Kushner grows more serious