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WashPost: Foreign Officials Discussed Manipulating Kushner

WashPost: Foreign Officials Discussed Manipulating Kushner
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner (Rex Features/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 27 February 2018 08:14 PM

Officials in China, Mexico and at least two other countries have privately discussed ways to manipulate Jared Kushner through his complicated business dealings, financial difficulties and inexperience in foreign policy, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The Post cited "current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter" who "spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters."

Among the other nations discussing how to exploit Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, include Israel and the United Arab Emirates, according to the report.

However, "it is unclear if any of those countries acted on the discussions," the Post disclosed, "but Kushner's contacts with certain foreign government officials have raised concerns inside the White House" and remain a factor in not being able to obtain a permanent security clearance.

Kushner was among several White House aides who lost access to a top-secret security clearance, Politico reported Tuesday, barring him access to the highly classified material that he has been able to obtain since Trump took office last year.

According to the Post, White House officials were concerned Kushner was "naive and being tricked" in conversations with foreign officials, "some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel."

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, told the Post: "We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling second-hand hearsay with rank speculation that continue to leak inaccurate information."

In addition, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster learned Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report on his disclosure forms, the Post reported.

Kushner's dealings with foreign officials and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities were raised in McMaster's daily intelligence briefings, the current and former officials said.

White House officials said McMaster was startled by some of Kushner's foreign contacts.

"When he learned about it, it surprised him," one official told the Post. "He thought that was weird.

"It was an unusual thing.

"I don't know that any White House has done it this way before," the official said.

McMaster, however, was "not concerned but wanted an explanation," the official said. "It seemed unusual to him."

McMaster and Kushner have since coordinated their efforts such that the National Security Council is aware of his foreign contacts, spokesman Michael Anton said.

"General McMaster has the highest regard for Mr. Kushner, and the two work well together," Anton told the Post. "Everything they do is integrated . . . it's seamless."

Kushner has repeatedly amended a government form detailing his foreign contacts. Not fully disclosing such dealings would ordinarily result in a clearance being denied, experts told the Post.

In 2016, Kushner was heading his family business, Kushner Cos., being involved running President Trump's campaign.

A major business issue was his family's investment in 666 Fifth Ave. in New York, whose $1.8 billion purchase he directed in 2007, the Post reported.

The price was the most paid for a U.S. office tower at the time — though the investment soured during the recession, forcing Kushner to seek refinancing.

That move saddled the company with $1.2 billion in that comes due in January 2019, according to the Post, and Kushner has sought foreign money on the project.

More broadly, however, foreign governments regularly discuss ways to influence senior government officials.

"Every country will seek to find their point of leverage," one person familiar with the Kushner matter told the Post.

A Mexican diplomatic source said Kushner "has remained strictly professional" in his dealings with the country, "with both sides looking after their interests but trying to find common ground."

UAE officials identified Kushner as early as the spring of 2017 as vulnerable because his family was seeking investors in their real estate company, the Post reported.

Officials at the embassies of China, Israel and the UAE did not respond to requests for comment.

Kushner's father, Charles Kushner, who has a major role at the privately-held company, recently told the Post that the Fifth Avenue property was a small part of its assets and that it was doing well financially.

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Jared Kushner was at risk of foreign manipulation through his complicated business dealings, financial difficulties, and inexperience in foreign policy, according to The Washington Post.
jared kushner, security clearance, foreign contacts, white house
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 08:14 PM
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