Former Obama adviser: Kushner engaged in ‘level of corruption that we’ve just never seen’ with foreign relations

Editor’s note: This report has been updated to clarify the Saudi sovereign’s advisory panel position on giving funds to Jared Kushner’s firm.

Former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner engaged in a “level of corruption that we’ve just never seen” when talking about his firm’s recent investments overseas.

Rhodes made the comment when asked about The New York Times’s recent reporting that detailed that 99 percent of Kushner’s investment fund’s money came from foreign sources. The outlet also reported Kushner is working on developing hotels in the Balkans, specifically in Serbia and Albania, and noted that the firm has taken money from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

“I mean, look, this is not subtle corruption that we’re looking at,” Rhodes told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner during his Wednesday appearance on “Alex Wagner Tonight.”

“This is a guy, Jared Kushner, who had no expertise, no qualification whatsoever to be in the White House while he was there. He made it his account to work in the Gulf Arab states. He basically helped lead the cover-up for [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman]. Get him in from the cold after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”

Rhodes said Kushner securing a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia six months after leaving the White House is a way for Crown Prince Mohammed to exert influence on U.S. foreign policy if Trump returns to the Oval Office after the November election.

“Basically, what we can take from that investment is that in a second Trump term, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and around the world will be made entirely with the interests of Mohammed bin Salman in mind,” Rhodes said.

Kushner oversaw Middle East policy during his time in the Trump administration. The investment was scrutinized after the Times reported in 2022 that the Saudi sovereign’s advisory panel was opposed to giving funds to Kushner’s firm, noting his “inexperience,” but the decision was reversed by a bigger board headed by the crown prince.

“He chose to work on issues in the Middle East, and he chose to work with the Gulf Arab states, knowing that the payout would be on the back end,” Rhodes said, pointing to the impeachment inquiry into President Biden by House Republicans, who allege his son, Hunter, used access to his father for profit.

“And here we have the president’s son-in-law, who worked in the White House — unlike Hunter Biden — who’s collected $2 billion on the back end of his service. Now he’s got his father-in-law running for president,” Rhodes said. “Right? This is not only unusual, this is unprecedented.”

Kushner defended himself and his firm’s action regarding conflicts-of-interest allegations when asked by the Times.

“Following the laws and the rules is something we always do,” he told the outlet. “Perception, I’ve learned that from my time in politics, is important. But I can’t control what everyone is going to write or say about me.”

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said back in August that Kushner “crossed the line of ethics” by accepting a $2 billion investment.

“This is just putting a price tag on American foreign policy,” Rhodes said. “This is a level of corruption that we’ve just never seen, and it’s hiding in plain sight.”

Updated on April 12 at 7:23 a.m. ET

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