Kushner's Israeli business ties examined amid loss of security clearance

Posted March 02, 2018

The private equity firm Apollo Global Management reportedly lent $184 million to Kushner Companies last November, months after one of its co-founders, Joshua Harris, had advised the Trump administration on infrastructure.

The $325 million from Citigroup was one of the largest loans Kushner Companies received previous year.

Likewise, Kushner had meetings with Citigroup's top exec Michael Corbat - to discuss financial and trade policy, several sources told The Times.

A spokesman for Kushner's personal lawyer has said the senior aide has "taken no part of any business, loans or projects with or for" Kushner Companies since joining the White House. In 2012, the Kushners and Steinmetz joined forces to buy almost $200 million of apartment buildings in the NY metropolitan area.

An Apollo spokesperson, Charles V. Zehren, said Harris was not involved in the decision to loan money to Kushner Cos.

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In Kushner's case, a permanent clearance wasn't coming anytime soon; according to the Washington Post, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had warned the White House on February 9 that recent revelations in Kushner's background investigation "could be an obstacle to his clearance process". Apollo Global Management lent the Kushner Cos.

Bernstein said that Kushner's security clearance issues and financial dealings while serving as a senior White House adviser could become focal points in Mueller's probe on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians in the 2016 election.

Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney, said in a statement that the delay is not uncommon.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is focused on Jared Kushner "like a laser" after the president's son-in-law had his security clearance downgraded, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein claimed on Tuesday night. "Stories like these attempt to make insinuating connections that do not exist to disparage the financial institutions and companies involved", she said. The Kushner family and Kushner Cos. have been clients since 2010, she said.

In the wake of the report, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Kushner "a valued member of the team, and he will continue to do the important work that he's been doing since he started in the administration". His real estate holdings and other investments are worth as much as $761 million, according to government ethics filings.

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Kushner resigned as CEO of the real estate business in early January 2017, but he still retained some of his interest in the company.

Kushner last Friday was informed that his temporary security clearance was downgraded from Top Secret/SCI-level to Secret level, cutting him off from classified information he had been accessing as his background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation dragged on.

Kushner's contacts with foreign officials are now under investigation by US special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been probing Russia's interference in the last presidential election since May 2017. It helped finance a a group of office buildings in Brooklyn.

But Kushner Companies' spokeswoman said they'd received no letter from the state and called the inquiries "harassment exclusively for political reasons".

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