The tide of scandal from inside the Trump administration is continuing to build as the president and his allies struggle — and fail — to avoid accountability for their actions. The president has sought to escape the Russia scandal, for instance, only to have it crash down upon his administration, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller so far having brought charges against four former associates of the president.
There’s now a new report about yet another scandal building inside the White House. Evidently, the fact that neither the president nor some of his closest allies had any experience with public service upon assuming their present positions isn’t paying off, since they keep running afoul of ethics laws.
It has come to light that the office of the White House counsel is looking into the question of whether or not meetings that Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner had with the heads of a pair of financial institutions violated government ethics laws.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi was told as much by acting director of the Office of Government Ethics David Apol, whom Krishnamoorthi had pressed about the issue of the meetings in question.
‘I have discussed this matter with the White House Counsel’s Office in order to ensure that they have begun the process of ascertaining the facts necessary to determine whether any law or regulation has been violated and whether any additional procedures are necessary to avoid violations in the future. During that discussion, the White House informed me that they had already begun this process. I have asked the White House to inform me of the results of that process.’
The meetings that Apol is referring to as possibly having facilitated a law or regulation being violated both took place last year. Kushner, who has taken on an array of roles within the White House, met with Joshua Harris, who co-founded the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, last year. In November, Apollo lent $184 million to the Kushner family business, which Jared himself formerly led.
Kushner also met with Citigroup’s chief executive Michael Corbat last year, and the firm consequently lent Kushner Companies $325 million.
Corbat has claimed to have had no knowledge of his bank being in the process of closing a real estate loan to the Kushner family business when he met with the president’s son-in-law last year. He is apparently the one to have requested the meeting in the first place, having sought to discuss U.S. trade policy.
As for Apollo, the company has similarly claimed that Harris had nothing to do with the massive loan to the Kushner family business.
News of the White House counsel looking into the question of whether or not Kushner’s meeting comes at an already perilous time for the president’s son-in-law and the Trump administration as a whole.
Kushner recently lost his temporary security clearance in the midst of a reshuffling of the entire process by which security clearances are granted inside the White House. That loss means that the real estate owner turned political leader had his work cut out for him.
Hanging over the entire administration is a cloud similar to the one hanging over Kushner in particular — that of the Russia scandal. Although the House Intelligence Committee has winded down its inquiry, Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation is still proceeding full steam ahead.
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