Will Jared Kushner Trigger Yet Another FBI Investigation?
In October, Jared Kushner took an unexpected and unannounced trip abroad to meet with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Needless to say, that trip raised eyebrows. The Intercept reported that the pair stayed up until 4 a.m. talking:
In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. “The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported at the time.
What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so.
Emphasis added. It wasn’t long after that unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia that the crown prince ordered dozens of his family members arrested:
On November 4, a week after Kushner returned to the U.S., the crown prince, known in official Washington by his initials MBS, launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown. The Saudi government arrested dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoned them in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, which was first reported in English by The Intercept. The Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief were among those rounded up; at least one was reportedly tortured.
Now Congressional Democrats are asking FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate whether Jared Kushner leaked classified information from the Presidential Daily Brief to the crown prince. From CNN:
We request the FBI open an immediate investigation to determine if these reports are accurate and to explore the extent to which information and sources may have been comprised," reads the letter from Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu, Gerald Connolly, Donald Beyer, Pramila Jaypal, Peter Welch and Ruben Gallego.The letter notes that the "integrity of classified information" falls within the purview of the FBI but that "while the President has the authority to declassify and share information, the President's advisers do not."
According to The Intercept, after the meeting, the crown prince bragged of having Kushner “in his pocket.”
One of the people MBS told about the discussion with Kushner was UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, according to a source who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers. MBS bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was “in his pocket,” the source told The Intercept.
Access to the President’s Daily Brief is tightly guarded, but Trump has the legal authority to allow Kushner to disclose information contained in it. If Kushner discussed names with MBS as an approved tactic of U.S. foreign policy, the move would be a striking intervention by the U.S. into an unfolding power struggle at the top levels of an allied nation. If Kushner discussed the names with the Saudi prince without presidential authorization, however, he may have violated federal laws around the sharing of classified intelligence.
Only months before that meeting, Jared Kushner sought a $500 million loan from officials in Qatar for a troubled New York City real estate project. So what happened in that mystery meeting with the Saudi crown prince? Was Jared Kushner trading classified information for his own financial benefit? After all, Bloomberg reported that Kushner has been seeking financing from around the world:
Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, wakes up each morning to a growing problem that will not go away. His family’s real estate business, Kushner Cos., owes hundreds of millions of dollars on a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue. It has failed to secure foreign investors, despite an extensive search, and its resources are more limited than generally understood. As a result, the company faces significant challenges.
Over the past two years, executives and family members have sought substantial overseas investment from previously undisclosed places: South Korea’s sovereign-wealth fund, France’s richest man, Israeli banks and insurance companies, and exploratory talks with a Saudi developer, according to former and current executives. These were in addition to previously reported attempts to raise money in China and Qatar.
It is clear the FBI needs to get to the bottom of this, one way or another.