Members of Congress Raise Concerns About Kushner Companies' "Unusually Favorable" Deal with Chinese Firm
Raise Questions for Key Treasury Department National Security Panel
Washington, D.C. - Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have raised concerns about a proposed Manhattan business partnership between the Chinese firm Anbang Insurance Group, and Kushner Companies, a real estate company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, a senior White House advisor and son-in-law of President Trump.
Recent reports indicate that Anbang, a company closely tied to the Chinese government, "is in advanced talks" to purchase and renovate 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, a Kushner-owned property located mere blocks from Trump Tower. The terms of the deal - described as "unusually favorable" to the Kushner family - would provide the family with a sizeable cash payout and ownership stake. Reports indicate that Anbang may determine whether to finalize the deal imminently.
In letters to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the Office of White House Counsel, the members of Congress expressed concern about the possible conflicts of interest that would result from such a transaction, as well as its potential implications for national security.
Though Kushner did step down as the CEO of Kushner companies, and indicated he would divest himself from substantial assets before assuming his position at the White House, "This deal, if codified, appears to present a clear conflict of interest for Jared Kushner," wrote the members.
Documents made available to the public do not fully clarify how Kushner has divested from his business interests and if this divestment is complete. A previous letter sent by Warren, Carper and Cummings to the Office of White House Counsel requesting this information has yet to receive a response. "Absent these documents, it is impossible to determine the extent to which Mr. Kushner or his immediate family may benefit from the Anbang sale," wrote Warren, Carper and Cummings.
In his capacity as Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin serves as the Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United Status (CFIUS), and is responsible for conducting investigations into foreign transactions that might jeopardize America's national security. While CFIUS has previously reviewed two other Anbang acquisitions, one of which was denied for its proximity to a San Diego naval base, it is unclear whether the committee would investigate the acquisition of 666 Fifth Avenue should the deal go through.
In one letter, the members of Congress asked Mnuchin if CFIUS will review the proposed transaction between Anbang and Kushner companies, and if Kushner's connections to the deal and position as a top White House advisor pose a potential risk to national security. In another letter to the White House Counsel, the members asked for clarification regarding the extent of Kusher's involvement in the deal with Anbang, and once again requested details concerning Kushner's divestments.
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