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Democrats Amp Up Investigation Into Kushner's White House Activities Before Fifth Avenue Bailout

Jared Kushner

Two congressional committees are looking into whether Jared Kushner used his political position to influence deals for his family business’s troubled Fifth Avenue office tower.

The investigations are focusing on the $1.2B investment the Kushner family office received in its 41-story office tower, 666 Fifth Ave., in 2018 to avoid a loan default, The Washington Post reports.

The Kushner Cos. received a 99-year ground lease investment from Brookfield Asset Management, which sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority has a stake in. Without the funding, Kushner Cos. may have defaulted on the loan when it reached its maturity date the next year.

Jared Kushner was presiding over White House Middle East policy as senior adviser to his father-in-law, then-President Donald Trump. Although Kushner was not involved in the Kushner Cos. at the time, the congressional committees are investigating if his actions at the White House could have been influenced by the deal.

The Democratic chairs of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Oversight Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, co-authored letters to the State and Defense departments, asking for documents that could determine whether “Kushner’s financial conflict of interest may have led him to improperly influence U.S. tax, trade and national security policies for his own financial gain,” the Post reported.

Brookfield denied that any Qatar-linked entity had any involvement or knowledge of the potential transaction in 2018. However, the committees said they believe the Kushner Cos.’ deal with Brookfield led to the end of White House support for a 2017 blockade led by Saudi Arabia against Qatar. Democrats are trying to establish if the ground lease deal involved any Qatari money.

Kushner Cos.’ Fifth Avenue property has been in trouble for some time. Jared Kushner oversaw the acquisition in 2007, when running the business for his father, Charles Kushner, who was in prison on federal tax evasion charges. The 666 Fifth Ave. property cost the family office $1.8B, making it the most expensive office property ever sold in the U.S. at the time — only for its values to be undercut during the Great Recession the following year. 

Jared Kushner was still trying to find an investor to take over the property in 2016, at the same time he was helping to run Trump’s first presidential election campaign. A previously undisclosed email obtained by the congressional committees shows that Kushner talked about the property with Brookfield officials at the same time, the Post reports.

Kushner cut ties with the family business when he transitioned to his role in the White House, although he held on to real estate assets valued between $132M and $407M, the Post reports. Charles Kushner met with Qatar’s finance minister in 2017, while his son was overseeing U.S. policy affecting Qatar.

Charles Kushner received a pardon during the final days of the Trump administration, at the same time that Jared Kushner went to the Persian Gulf region to finalize a deal ending the blockade on Qatar. The day after Trump was no longer U.S. president and the younger Kushner no longer had a role in the federal government, Jared Kushner announced the creation of the private equity firm he now runs and a $2B investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

CORRECTION, DEC. 9, 2 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story contained misstated Kushner's purchase price of 666 Fifth Ave. This article has been updated.