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House Democrats Might Investigate Kushner, Brookfield's 666 Fifth Ave. Deal

Jared Kushner

Kushner Cos. may have avoided debt disaster with 666 Fifth Ave., but it may be not be out of trouble just yet.

House Democrats are in discussions over whether to open an investigation into the 99-year ground lease deal Kushner reached with Brookfield Asset Management, Axios reports. Brookfield paid the company $1.1B up front for the lease, allowing Charles Kushner to negotiate the building's $1.4B debt to a smaller number and pay it off.

Alerting Congress to the deal is the Qatar Investment Authority, which is the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar and Brookfield's second-largest investor, according to Axios. The Persian Gulf nation is currently mired in a tense political dynamic with Saudi Arabia, which has pulled in the rest of the nations in the Arabian Peninsula as well as Iran and Turkey. President Donald Trump has been closely aligned with the Saudi government and initially supported its embargo of Qatar, but as the conflict has dragged on, the U.S. position has softened.

Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have business ties to Trump and his family, as the Qatari U.N. delegation owns four condos in New York's Trump World Tower and a Saudi delegation stayed five nights at Trump International Hotel in 2018, spending so lavishly that the hotel saw its first quarter of growth in two years as a result. Both nations have some significant real estate holdings in the U.S.

A former Qatari prime minister was once rumored to be an investor in Kushner Cos.' initial $7.5B plan to redevelop 666 Fifth Ave., but the deal reportedly fell through after Trump publicly accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, echoing the Saudi government's position. A much less ambitious redevelopment is now in the making after Brookfield's investment — a deal that the QIA claims it only found out about when it was announced and has publicly criticized.

Reps. Maxine Waters, Ted Lieu and Elijah Cummings all told Axios they have serious concerns over a potential conflict of interest due to former Kushner CEO Jared Kushner's position as senior adviser to Trump, but have not committed to an official committee investigation.

The three are not sure exactly which committee would lead the inquiry, and are reportedly leery of being perceived as harassing Trump's family, but have made no secret of their concerns that Trump and his families' businesses are being used by foreign powers to gain influence within the administration.