The Trump administration has outshined nearly all others when it comes to the appearance of conflicts of interest, with President Donald Trump's business properties often the subject of scrutiny.
But Jared Kushner - Trump's son-in-law who is responsible for negotiating peace in the Middle East - has joined in with potential conflicts of his own, the latest revelation coming via Israeli investment in his Baltimore apartment buildings.
Shortly before [Kushner's first official trip to Israel], his family real estate company received a roughly $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim, an insurer that is one of Israel’s largest financial institutions, according to a Menora executive.
The deal, which was not made public, pumped significant new equity into 10 Maryland apartment complexes controlled by Kushner’s firm. While Mr. Kushner has sold parts of his business since taking a White House job last year, he still has stakes in most of the family empire — including the apartment buildings in and around Baltimore.
The Times notes that the transactions do not appear to violate ethics laws, but it is the idea that Kushner is at charged with policy decisions regarding the country whose powerful, wealthy people are doing business with him that is unsettling.
“I think it’s reasonable for people to ask whether his business interests are somehow affecting his judgment,” said Matthew T. Sanderson, a lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington who specializes in government ethics and was general counsel to Senator Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.
Abbe D. Lowell, a lawyer for Mr. Kushner, said in a statement: “Jared Kushner has not been involved in, nor spoken about any Kushner Companies’ activities or project, since shortly before the Inauguration. He has an ethics agreement, reviewed by lawyers, with which he is in full compliance. Connecting any of his well-publicized trips to the Middle East to anything to do with Kushner Companies or its businesses is nonsensical and is a stretch to write a story where none actually exists.”
Mr. Sanderson, the lawyer who specializes in government ethics, said, “Their standard seems like some version of ‘It’s a conflict when I think it’s a conflict, and I’ll make that judgment myself.’”