Special counsel Mueller investigating Kushner’s business ties to Russian bank
Robert Mueller, the Justice Department’s special counsel appointed to lead the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, is looking into Jared Kushner’s ties to a state-run Russian bank, The Washington Post reports.
Specifically, the investigation is focusing on a meeting Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser had with the head of a Russian bank in December of 2016. This meeting occurred after Kushner’s talk with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he asked for the Russians to set up a secret backchannel.
The White House has said the subsequent meeting with the banker was a pre-inauguration diplomatic encounter, unrelated to business matters. The Russian bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been the subject of U.S. sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, has said the session was held for business reasons because of Kushner’s role as head of his family’s real estate company. The meeting occurred as Kushner’s company had been seeking financing for its troubled $1.8 billion purchase of an office building on Fifth Avenue in New York, and it could raise questions about whether Kushner’s personal financial interests were colliding with his impending role as a public official.
Questions about Kushner’s financial conflicts of interest have been swirling since the moment he joined the Trump campaign. While Kushner (supposedly) gave up his ownership of the New York Observer, he only partially divested from his family’s real estate business. Plus, his sister has been seen pushing the family’s government status in order to lure foreign investors.
Kushner is a fairly secretive high-ranking member of the administration, but his connection to the Russians has come under intense scrutiny. Kushner had at least three undisclosed meetings with Kislyak, which, combined with the whole backchannel thing, prompted congressional Democrats to call for a review of Kushner’s security clearance. Basically, it’s not surprising he is part of the Russia investigation. It would be at best incredibly strange and at worst outright negligent if Kushner’s name somehow never came up with Mueller.
“It would be standard practice for the Special Counsel to examine financial records to look for anything related to Russia,” Kushner’s lawyer told WaPo. “Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about Russia-related matters. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.”
It’d be a shame if this investigation interferes with Kushner’s efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. Things seem to be going so well in that department, what with Congress voting for new Iran sanctions and the United States selling $12 billion worth of fighter jets to Qatar even though Trump keeps saying they support terrorism.