In 2017, Kushner Met With Rupert Murdoch’s Ex-Wife In China
In 2017, White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner held a secretive meeting with Chinese investors as President Donald Trump went about a 12-day tour of Asia — a meeting which was not listed on any official schedules and remains a matter of secrecy by the Trump administration.
While a hush-hush meeting with private equity investors in China alone is a curious matter, as CNBC noted in reporting on its attempt to secure more details via the Freedom of Information Act, even more curious is that Wendi Deng arranged the gathering.
CNBC also noted that Deng — who is the ex-wife of conservative media mogul Robert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and its parent company, News Corps. — is a longtime friend of Kusher and Ivanka Trump.
Administration officials have said the meeting was nothing more than a “casual lunch” and that no official government or personal business was discussed, but the State Department continues to slow-walk CNBC’s FOIA request. The anticipated date of release of the information is July 23, 2021 — three and a half years after the request was initially filed.
Though CNBC’s request largely surrounds potential conflicts of interest on Kushner’s part — after all, the president’s son-in-law was under fire for his family’s pursuit of overseas investors at the time of the meeting, particularly looking for someone to save them from the $1.4 billion in debt on their marquee New York property — Deng’s involvement is also noteworthy.
In 2016, rumors swirled that Deng was romantically involved with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who divorced his wife of 30 years in 2014. Deng parted ways with Murdoch in 2013, after which she reportedly dated at least two powerful men before the Putin connection began circulating.
But Putin was not Deng’s only potentially sketch connection: Kushner reportedly was warned by U.S. intelligence officials in 2017 that his longtime friend might be a Chinese spy.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Kushner was told Deng might be using her friendship with both he and his wife to "further the interests of the Chinese government."
Intelligence officials believed that Deng had lobbied for “a planned $100 million Chinese garden at the National Arboretum,” which “ was deemed a national-security risk because it included a 70-foot-tall white tower that could potentially be used for surveillance.”
At the time of the reporting, a representative for Kushner said he and Ivanka had "been friends with Rupert and Wendi Murdoch for a decade before coming to Washington and their relationship is neither political nor about China."
But Business Insider noted that Michael Wolff, who authored a tell-all about Trump’s 2016 campaign and early presidency, offered an entirely different perspective on the Kushner-Ivanka-Deng friendship.
"Since their divorce, Murdoch has been telling anybody who would listen that Wendi is a Chinese spy--and had been throughout the marriage," Wolff wrote on Twitter last year.
It is possible that Deng’s alleged connection to the Chinese and Russian governments are in part why the Trump administration is hesitant to release information about Kushner’s secret 2017 meeting in China.