Democrats call for House probe into Jared Kushner’s foreign ‘influence peddling’

Democrats call for House probe into Jared Kushner’s foreign ‘influence peddling’

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are calling for a hearing into what they call the foreign “influence peddling” of former president Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The top Democrat on the Committee, Maryland representative and ranking member Jamie Raskin, and California representative Robert Garcia pushed chair James Comer, Republican of Kentucky, in a letter on Tuesday to “convene a hearing regarding Jared Kushner’s apparent influence peddling and quid pro quo deals involving investments in exchange for official actions and to examine the resulting threats to our national security”.

Mr Comer has led the so-far fruitless impeachment investigation into President Joe Biden, which has focused heavily on his son Hunter Biden, but no wrongdoing on the part of the president has yet been established.

While Hunter Biden made millions in foreign business dealings, the Republicans have failed to connect the president to those dealings, beyond some fleeting greetings with business associates.

Mr Raskin and Mr Garcia cited recent New York Times reporting that Mr Kushner has been looking to make real estate deals with foreign governments via contacts he established during his time as an adviser in the Trump administration, even as his father-in-law makes another run for the top job.

Mr Comer has said previously that Mr Kushner crossed an ethical line when he made a deal for large Saudi investments just after departing from the White House.

“Unlike the Bidens, Jared Kushner has a legitimate business and has a career as a business executive that predates Donald Trump’s political career,” Mr Comer said in a statement, according to HuffPost. “Democrats’ latest letter is part of their playbook to shield President Biden from oversight.”

Mr Comer has argued that Joe Biden used his time in government, including as vice-president, to make large amounts of money by letting family members use their well-known last name to make significant deals.

But Mr Trump owned businesses that got millions from foreign governments during his time as president. Mr Trump owned a hotel in downtown Washington DC between the White House and the US Capitol where foreign officials would stay as an indirect way of paying tribute to Mr Trump. Some have argued this violated the ban on US officials receiving foreign payments.

The New York Times reported on 15 March that Mr Kushner was getting close to finalising real estate deals in Albania and Serbia, partly using contacts he appeared to have made during his time in the White House.

Mr Kushner said he had been working with Richard Grenell, who was the acting director of national intelligence, ambassador to Germany, and the special envoy to the Balkans during the Trump administration.

“No one is ‘giving’ me deals,” Mr Kushner told The New York Times earlier this month. “I operate fairly meticulously, and these investments will create a lot of value for the local communities, our partners and our investors.”