An Israeli insurer paid $30 million to the Kushner family real estate firm shortly before White House senior adviser Jared Kushner traveled to Israel on a diplomatic mission in May 2017, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The funds have raised conflict-of-interest concerns about President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, who still has a stake in the real estate project that benefited from the insurance money, according to the Times.
In fact, the Kushner family firm benefits from several investments from Israeli financial institutions, including for other projects that provide income to Kushner, the Times notes. Kushner Companies has also taken out several loans from Bank Hapoalim in Israel. The bank is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice over accusations that it helped Americans evade taxes, the Times reported.
And Israel is not the only case of Kushner Companies benefiting from investments from foreign countries while Kushner himself, a key stakeholder, is dealing with those same nations as a federal official.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission and Brooklyn federal prosecutors are investigating the Kushner company’s participation in the EB-5 visa program. The program provides green cards to well-heeled foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in certain businesses. At least two Kushner real estate projects in New Jersey have benefited from the program. Kushner retains an investment in one of them, and has collected millions of dollars from the other, according to his financial disclosure information, the Journal reported.
When Kushner’s sister was making a pitch last year to potential Chinese investors in Shanghai and Beijing, she invoked Kushner’s White House status and presented a slideshow that included a photo of Trump.
In the Israeli case, insurer Menora Mivtachim invested $30 million into 10 Maryland apartment complexes controlled by Kushner Companies, according to the Times. Kushner still holds an investment in the Baltimore-area properties. Soon after, Kushner traveled with Trump to Israel in May as part of Kushner’s mission to negotiate Mideast peace. According to federal ethics laws, he is only required to recuse himself from government negotiations that could have a direct impact on his financial holdings.
Critics, however, question how impartial Kushner can be in any Mideast negotiations when he’s profiting from investments from companies in one of the countries involved.
“I think it’s reasonable for people to ask whether his business interests are somehow affecting his judgment,” Matthew Sanderson, a lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C., who specializes in government ethics, told the Times.
The Kushner foundation has previously contributed to Israeli settlements. Kushner himself was co-director of the foundation when it funded an Israeli settlement considered to be illegal under international law, which he failed to reveal on his financial disclosure forms with the Office of Government Ethics, Newsweek reported. During the presidential transition, Kushner attempted to help block a United Nation resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been examining Kushner’s actions then as part of his ongoing probe, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah told The Jerusalem Post that the Trump administration has “tremendous confidence in the job Jared is doing leading our peace efforts. He takes the ethics rules very seriously and would never compromise himself or the administration.”