Early in 2018, John Harris, one of the founders of Apollo Global Management, began regularly visiting the White House to advise the Trump administration on infrastructure policy. During these trips he met multiple times with Jared Kushner, son-in-law to President Trump. Kushner and Harris discussed a potential White House job for Harris.
Although Harris never got a job, in November Apollo lent Kushner Companies $184 million, according to the New York Times. This loan, which was triple the size of Apollo’s average property loan, was given to the company to refinance the mortgage on a building in Chicago.
Although this was one of the largest loans Kushner Company received last year, it wasn’t the largest. An even larger loan came from Citigroup, which lent the firm $325 million to finance office buildings in Brooklyn. The loan was made in the spring of 2017 soon after Kushner met with Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael L. Corbat.
Government ethics experts say that it is unusual for a top White House official to meet with company executives as they consider giving huge loans to his business.
“This is exactly why senior government officials, for as long back as I have any experience, don’t maintain any active outside business interests,” said Don Fox, the former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration. “The appearance of conflicts of interest is simply too great.”
Peter Mirijanian, who spoke for Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said that Kushner “has met with hundreds of business people” and that Kushner “has taken no part of any business, loans or projects with or for” Kushner Companies since joining the White House.
A spokesman for Apollo said that Harris was not involved in the Kushner loan, and the loan “went through the firm’s standard approval process.”
A Citigroup spokesperson said that Kushner has been a client of the bank for many years, and the relationship was not connected to his role in the White House.
This presidential administration continues to be dogged by conflicts of interest between business and government.