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CORRUPTION: Kushner’s $2 billion from Saudis sets new standard for cashing in on presidency

CORRUPTION: Kushner’s $2 billion from Saudis sets new standard for cashing in on presidency

CORRUPTION: Kushner's $2 billion from Saudis sets new standard for cashing in on presidency

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Jared Kushner has never been one to not take full advantage of the nepotism that has fueled his wealth, but his latest scheme is almost too corrupt to believe.

Half a year since leaving the White House in disgrace, Kushner received a $2 billion investment from Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince who was close to the Trump administration and is infamous for ordering the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The deal is so sketchy and questionable that the investment fund charged with screening investments from the Saudi sovereign wealth funds cited preoccupations about the deal. According to the panel, Kushner’s new private equity firm, Affinity Partners, is not up to the task of managing such a large investment, leaving Saudi Arabia responsible for “the bulk of the investment and risk”, while finding the firm’s operations “unsatisfactory in all aspects”. Another concern was “public relations risks” associated with Kushner’s role as a senior aide to insurrection enthusiast Donald Trump, something pretty rich considering that Mohammed Bin Salman literally ordered a journalist dismembered, but, regardless, I wouldn’t want to be associated with Trump either.

The panel’s concerns were ultimately overruled by Bin Salman and the board overseeing the fund. Experts see the move as a way for the Saudi Crown Prince to repay favors and loyalty by the Trump administration to Saudi Arabia. Kushner was one of Bin Salman’s chief defenders after the brutal 2018 murder of Khashoggi, who was dismembered at the Saudi embassy in Turkey.

Saudi Arabia has kept close ties with former Trump administration officials. Former Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin has raised over $2.5 billion for his private equity fund, including a large, but not as large as Kushner’s, investment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund. Both Kushner and Mnuchin’s firms will open offices in Riyadh as a requirement for the deal. 

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There are no laws that stop this sort of corrupt self-dealing by former White House officials, and connections established while in office are regularly exploited by those seeking to enrich themselves. However, the Kushner investment is eyebrow-raising due to Bin Salman’s awful record on human rights, his ordering the murder of Khashoggi, and Kushner’s sycophantic defense of it all, including brokering a $110 million weapons deal with Saudi Arabia and defending their brutal military intervention of Yemen, one that has resulted in one of the worst man-made famine’s in recent history. 

It’s worth noting that Kushner has not even bothered to disclose what the theme or focus is for his private equity fund and has very little experience as an investor. His resume mostly includes losing money for his family’s real estate empire, most famously buying the 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan building in Manhattan right before the 2007-2008 sharp recession led to a severe decrease in value of the property. 

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Considering Kushner’s track record of failure as an investor and his lack of experience, it is painfully obvious that this is an investment by Saudi Arabia on an extremely well-connected rich kid whose father-in-law happens to be a former U.S. president and will probably run again in 2024. The money going to Kushner’s firm serves one purpose only — to continue to exert influence on American foreign policy decisions and our energy policy.

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For Kushner and the Trump family, it’s simpler. It’s their never-ending grift to enrich themselves at all and any cost.

Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. He tweets from: @tomaskenn.

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Thomas Kennedy
is a former reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a fomer Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.

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