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Kushner subpoenaed for issuing green cards while the administration takes them away

August 3, 2017 aurorax 0

Federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed the company of President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner late Wednesday over their use of the EB-5 federal visa program. The program issues green cards to immigrants who invest $500,000 in U.S.-based developments, 85 percent of which are Chinese. The irony of the subpoena is difficult to […]

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Jared Kushner’s secret plan to create Middle East peace without reading books or learning history

August 1, 2017 aurorax 0

Congressional interns were asked not to record the session. A recording found its way to the media anyway.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens during the “American Leadership in Emerging Technology” event with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Despite stern warnings not to tape the session, a leaked recording of White House adviser Jared Kushner’s off-the-record lecture to a group of congressional interns on Monday managed to find its way into the hands of Wired reporter Ashley Feinberg. The recording itself features Kushner discussing his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that fails to inspire confidence.

Ahead of the lecture, Katie Patru, a House staffer who organized the event, briefed the interns and noted that recording and disseminating any audio or video from the session would be a major “breach of trust.”

“This town is full of leakers and everyone knows who they are, and no one trusts them,” Patru warned. “In this business your reputation is everything. I’ve been on the hill for 15 years. I’ve sat in countless meetings with members of Congress where important decisions were being made. During all those years in all those meetings, I never once leaked to a reporter.” Patru added that it would “bother [her] to [her] core” if she discovered anyone had been giving up information to the press.

White House reporters reflected in the West Wing windows, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner walks to the microphones to speak to the media outside the White House in Washington, Monday, July 24, 2017, after meeting behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee on the investigation into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

At least one intern was not impressed. According to the recording leaked to Wired, Kushner, who has stumbled in previous visits with Middle East leaders, seized on the opportunity to vent his frustrations on the peace process. At one point, he bemoaned others’ attempts to give him a “history lesson” on the subject, which he claimed was useless.

“You know everyone finds an issue…You have to understand what they did then,’ and ‘You have to understand that they did this,’” he said. “But how does that help us get peace? Let’s not focus on that. We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on how do you come up with a conclusion to the situation.”

He added, “You have some people who don’t want to see and achieve an outcome of peace. And other people sometimes thrive in the chaos…and that’s not new to politics and its not new to that conflict. It’s just the way it is.”

Kushner comments further revealed his inexperience on the issue. During a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June, leaders complained that the president’s son-in-law — a strong supporter of Israel — and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt seemed more “like Netanyahu’s advisers and not like fair arbiters.”

“They started presenting Netanyahu’s issues and then we asked to hear from them clear stances regarding the core issues of the conflict,” a senior Palestinian official reportedly said, according to Haaretz. Officials later called the meeting a disappointment.

7 jobs Jared Kushner is now doing for the United States of America

The leaked recording on Monday did nothing to quell concerns that Kushner was seemingly over his head.

“So, what do we offer [this process] that’s unique? I don’t know… I’m sure everyone that’s tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we’re trying to follow very logically,” he said at one point, remarking ambiguously on the negotiations. “We’re thinking about what the right end state is. …And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future.”

Kushner’s confusion on the issue seems to mirror President Trump’s own shallow understanding of the situation. Back in May, while meeting with Abbas himself, Trump ham-handedly described the long conflict between Israel and Palestine “as not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

“We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said, dodging any specifics. “We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. I think there is a very good chance and I think we will.”

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and President Donald Trump inspect an honor guard in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Those comments echoed similar refrains from the 2016 campaign trail; during an MSNBC town hall in February that year, then-candidate Trump told supporters that negotiating peace in the Middle East would be “probably the toughest agreement of any kind to make.”

When host Joe Scarborough pushed Trump to expand on his comment, Trump replied hazily, “You know, I don’t want to get into it, because…if I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you and the other side now says, ‘We don’t want Trump involved.’”

He added, “ Let me be sort of a neutral guy. A lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal. So I don’t want to say whose fault is it. I don’t think it helps.”

Neither the White House nor spokespersons for the office of Member Services, Outreach, and Communications immediately responded to requests for comment.


Jared Kushner’s secret plan to create Middle East peace without reading books or learning history was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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House Democrats target Jared Kushner’s security clearance

July 28, 2017 aurorax 0

They say his clearance poses a national security risk.

White House adviser Jared Kushner, center, and his attorney Abbe Lowell, left, arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 25, 2017, to be interviewed behind closed doors by the House Intelligence Committee. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

On Thursday, House Democrats introduced new legislation aimed at Jared Kushner’s security clearance. The Security Clearance Review Act would authorize the F.B.I Director to revoke the security clearance of senior White House staff, should the Director decide it poses a national security risk. The bill, spearheaded by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, has 18 additional cosponsors.

“Donald Trump’s refusal to hold his senior staff accountable for their deceptions on Russia have sadly made this legislation necessary,” said Beyer in a statement on the bill. “Despite all we have learned about his secret meetings with Russians, Jared Kushner apparently continues to hold his clearance. Kushner’s case and that of disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn make it clear that we need further protections when it comes to security clearances for the President’s family and closest advisers.”

This legislation is the latest attempt by House Democrats to hold Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, accountable for his SF-86 security clearance form that previously omitted his contacts with several foreign leaders, including Russian officials and nationals with links to the Kremlin.

After reports of Kushner’s undisclosed meetings with Russians were made public in April, Beyer, along with four other House representatives, wrote a letter to then-F.B.I Director James Comey, urging the agency to suspend Kushner’s security clearance. In response, the F.B.I. said that only the president has that power. This bill would give the F.B.I Director the ability to “revoke, or prohibit the renewal of a security clearance.”

In early June, Beyer led over 50 members of Congress calling for the revocation of Kushner’s clearance after Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller was looking into his meetings as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The following month, two dozen representatives called upon the F.B.I to see if Ivanka Trump omitted any details on her SF-86. The security clearance form requires the applicant’s spouse and/or sibling to disclose any foreign contacts, meetings, and business interests. This means she would have had to disclose Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.

This legislation comes the same week Kushner testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation. In his 11-page opening statement, Kushner doesn’t deny the four meetings with Russian foreign nationals, but maintains that he “did not collude.” Testimony given behind closed doors is not under oath.

Kushner currently has an interim clearance as he gathers information for the F.B.I in order to seek top-secret security clearance. Higher clearance would give Kushner even more access to classified, sensitive information.


House Democrats target Jared Kushner’s security clearance was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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House Democrats target Jared Kushner’s security clearance

July 28, 2017 aurorax 0

They say his clearance poses a national security risk.

White House adviser Jared Kushner, center, and his attorney Abbe Lowell, left, arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 25, 2017, to be interviewed behind closed doors by the House Intelligence Committee. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

On Thursday, House Democrats introduced new legislation aimed at Jared Kushner’s security clearance. The Security Clearance Review Act would authorize the F.B.I Director to revoke the security clearance of senior White House staff, should the Director decide it poses a national security risk. The bill, spearheaded by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, has 18 additional cosponsors.

“Donald Trump’s refusal to hold his senior staff accountable for their deceptions on Russia have sadly made this legislation necessary,” said Beyer in a statement on the bill. “Despite all we have learned about his secret meetings with Russians, Jared Kushner apparently continues to hold his clearance. Kushner’s case and that of disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn make it clear that we need further protections when it comes to security clearances for the President’s family and closest advisers.”

This legislation is the latest attempt by House Democrats to hold Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, accountable for his SF-86 security clearance form that previously omitted his contacts with several foreign leaders, including Russian officials and nationals with links to the Kremlin.

After reports of Kushner’s undisclosed meetings with Russians were made public in April, Beyer, along with four other House representatives, wrote a letter to then-F.B.I Director James Comey, urging the agency to suspend Kushner’s security clearance. In response, the F.B.I. said that only the president has that power. This bill would give the F.B.I Director the ability to “revoke, or prohibit the renewal of a security clearance.”

In early June, Beyer led over 50 members of Congress calling for the revocation of Kushner’s clearance after Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller was looking into his meetings as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The following month, two dozen representatives called upon the F.B.I to see if Ivanka Trump omitted any details on her SF-86. The security clearance form requires the applicant’s spouse and/or sibling to disclose any foreign contacts, meetings, and business interests. This means she would have had to disclose Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016.

This legislation comes the same week Kushner testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation. In his 11-page opening statement, Kushner doesn’t deny the four meetings with Russian foreign nationals, but maintains that he “did not collude.” Testimony given behind closed doors is not under oath.

Kushner currently has an interim clearance as he gathers information for the F.B.I in order to seek top-secret security clearance. Higher clearance would give Kushner even more access to classified, sensitive information.


House Democrats target Jared Kushner’s security clearance was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Kushner admits to four contacts with Russians that the White House previously denied

July 24, 2017 aurorax 0

“I did not collude.”

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, right, sits next to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at the Treasury Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Ahead of his closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday morning, Jared Kushner released an 11-page opening statement attempting to exonerate himself, writing: “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government.” In his first public statements detailing his contacts with Russians during the Trump campaign and into the transition, Kushner describes himself as an overworked, non-politician who was unprepared for the spotlight placed on him. After Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president, Kushner became what he describes as a “point of contact for foreign government officials,” taking on responsibilities he didn’t have while on the campaign.

While the statement offers insight into 4 key meetings with Russian foreign nationals, many of the details contradict previous remarks from White House officials, including their initial, categorical claim that there was no contact between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The meeting with Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel on April 27, 2016

The first documented meeting with a Russian foreign national that Kushner remembers occurred in April of the election. Then-candidate Donald Trump gave a speech on foreign policy, described as “pathetic” and “not conservative” by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), before a crowd that included Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Sessions is reported to have had a meeting in a VIP room at the hotel with Trump and Kislyack, something Sessions has yet to firmly deny. Sessions contacts with foreign nationals eventually led to his recusal from the Russia investigation and the appointment of special prosecutor, Robert Mueller.

Kushner, however, maintains he was mainly in charge of executing the event and did not have any contact with ambassador Kislyak, aside from a handshake and what he describes as, “thank[ing] them for attending the event and [hoping] [the ambassadors] would like candidate Trump’s speech and his ideas for a fresh approach to America’s foreign policy.”

The meeting with the Russian lawyer in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016

The only other meeting with Russian officials during the campaign Kushner can remember is the one detailed in Donald Trump, Jr.’s recently published email exchange. The emails reveal Kushner, along with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Donald Trump, Jr., attended a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer. Also in attendance were a Russian lobbyist, a translator, and Rob Goldstone, the music producer who had brokered the meeting.

Kushner claims that as part of his busy position on the Trump team, he receives hundreds of emails a day and can never read them all. This is his defense for not knowing about what the meeting would entail or who he would meet. The subject line of the email, however, made the premise of the meeting clear: “Russia -Clinton -private and confidential.”

The meeting as described by Donald Trump, Jr. and Kushner himself in the statement, was about Russian adoption policy. The emails reveal, however, that Trump Jr. and company attended the meeting after being promised compromising information about their opponent, Hillary Clinton that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Even if the meeting did end up being about adoption, however, the talking point is insincere. The adoption program was halted by the Russian government in retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, in which Congress imposed sanctions on certain Russian figures over human rights issues after the arrest and suspicious death of Russian tax attorney, Sergey Magnitsky, who uncovered fraud committed by the Russian government.

The second meeting with Kislyak in Trump Tower on December 1, 2016

The second meeting with ambassador Kislyak was Kushner’s first in his capacity as senior adviser to the president. The 23 minute long meeting was also attended by retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who later went on to briefly serve as Trump’s National Security Adviser before being fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence — on the issue of campaign contacts with Russian officials.

Kushner writes in his opening statement that he took the meeting at the request of Russian Ambassador Kislyak and asked Kislyak if “he would identify the best person (whether the Ambassador or someone else) with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his President,” he then adds, in bolded text: “The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day” — a roundabout denial which acknowledges an existing relationship between the campaign and Russia that Kushner was not aware of.

This is also the meeting that according to a Washington Post report in May, Kushner discussed creating a secret back-channel with Russia, supposedly to discuss Syria and other foreign policy issues.

The meeting with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov on December 13, 2016

The second meeting Kushner attended in his capacity as a White House official was with a Russian foreign national and Russian banker, Sergey Gorkov. Kushner claims ambassador Kislyak requested he take meeting, as Gorkov is someone with a “direct line to the [Russian] President.” Kushner accepted, hoping to gain “insight into how Putin was viewing the new administration and best ways to work together,” even though the “administration” was in its infancy, only a month after the election and over a month before Trump’s inauguration.

The timing of the meeting was dubious as well. In December, Jared Kushner was still the head of Kushner Copmanies and was looking for investors to redevelop his 666 Fifth Avenue property for which he paid $1.8 billion for in 2007. Kushner denies in his statement “any notion that [he] tried to conceal this meeting or that [he] took it thinking it was in [his]capacity as a businessman is false.”

Vnesheconombank, the bank Gorkov oversees, however, told a different story. In a statement emailed to Reuters, the sanctioned espionage-linked bank said that the Putin-appointed Gorkov met “with a number of representatives of the largest banks and business establishments of the United States, including Jared Kushner, the head of Kushner Companies.”


Kushner admits to four contacts with Russians that the White House previously denied was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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20 members of Congress demand FBI investigation into Ivanka Trump’s security clearance

July 19, 2017 aurorax 0

Ethics issues are a family affair.

In this June 27, 2017 file photo, Ivanka Trump is seen at the State Department in Washington. Ivanka Trump is defending a White House proposal to mandate paid leave for new parents in a letter to the editor published Wednesday, July, 5, 2017, in The Wall Street Journal. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been under extreme scrutiny for allegedly lying on the forms he submitted to gain his security clearance. Now Kushner’s problems have expanded to his wife, Ivanka Trump.

Led by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), more than 20 House Democrats penned a letter to acting F.B.I Director Andrew McCabe Wednesday calling for an investigation into whether or not Ivanka Trump was truthful in her application for a top-level security clearance. The application, known as an FS-86, requires applicants to disclose foreign contacts, meetings, and business interests by the clearance holder in addition to those of their spouse and siblings.

“Did she disclose her husband’s meeting with Kislyak and Gorkov? Did she disclose her brother’s and husband’s meeting with Veselnitskaya? Did she accurately disclose her own foreign contacts in her initial filing, which reports suggest may be numerous?” asks House Democrats in the letter to the F.B.I. “If in fact she did accurately disclose these meetings, who at the White House knew of Mr. Kushner’s and Mr. Trump Jr’s multiple contacts with Russian officials before they were made public? And, most importantly, did she discuss any of these meetings with the President, and, if so, when?

The letter notes that “knowingly falsifying or concealing information on an SF-86 questionnaire is a felony, punishable up to 5 years in prison.”

This comes at a time of heightened scrutiny over her husband Jared Kushner’s continuous revisions to his own FS-86, omitting key meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyack, the head of state-run Vnesheconombank Sergey Gorkov, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, among nearly 100 others.

According to CNN, there is growing concern over whether Kushner’s security clearance will be revoked within the White House itself.

The demand for an investigation into Ivanka Trump’s security clearance is the latest effort by House Democrats to force their Republican colleagues to vote on matters of ethics and transparency as it relates to the Trump administration. House Republicans blocked a proposed amendment by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) in the House Appropriations Committee last week that would have prohibited the government from issuing (or maintaining) any White House clearances to those under investigation for aiding a foreign government. In response, Democrats from various committees in the House proposed a number of resolutions of inquiry.

Resolutions of inquiry are measures that trigger floor votes if no legislative action is taken within 14 (legislative) days of proposal. This would effectively allow votes on measures that would normally die in committee along party lines to have a vote on the floor.

At the press conference announcing the resolutions of inquiry, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) said it “isn’t enough” for Republicans to tell their constituents that President Trump should release his tax returns, if they’re not willing to vote for it in committee or on the House floor. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Pascrell has proposed a resolution of inquiry requesting Trump’s tax returns from the past decade.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) offered a resolution of inquiry to the House Judiciary Committee for the Department of Justice to release Trump documents or records involving the firing of former F.B.I Director James Comey and the extent of Attorney General Jeff Session’s involvement in it.

Other resolutions include the release of any documents related to Trump connections to Russian banks, plans by Trump to lift Russian sanctions, and the Trump Organization’s lease with the federal government for the property that now serves as the Trump International Hotel in Washington.


20 members of Congress demand FBI investigation into Ivanka Trump’s security clearance was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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In Congress, growing calls to revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance

July 14, 2017 aurorax 0

House Democrats are not backing down.

Jared Kushner attends a meeting in the White House (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a number of House Democrats gave a press conference Friday calling for Jared Kushner’s security clearance to be “revoked immediately” given past and recent revelations of his contacts with foreign nationals.

Pelosi joins a growing number Democrats in Congress including Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.,) Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH.,) Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA.) who have vocalized their support for rescinding Kushner’s security clearance.

Jared Kushner must lose his security clearance immediately! This is not a partisan issue, it is our national security. #RevokeKushner

 — @RepTedLieu

Jared Kushner left numerous meetings with Russian officials off his security clearance form. His clearance must be revoked. #RevokeKushner

 — @JacksonLeeTX18

“It is absolutely ridiculous…the president can revoke that privilege at any moment,” said Pelosi. “And he should.”

Pelosi described Republicans in the House as “enablers” of constitutional violations. On Thursday, House Republicans blocked a proposed amendment by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) in a House Appropriations Committee markup session that was aimed at revoking Kushner’s security clearance. The measure would have prohibited the government from issuing or maintaining clearances to any White House individual “under a criminal investigation by a Federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee also called for Kushner’s security clearance to be reviewed and possibly revoked, in light of the “deeply disturbing” reports that Kushner met with an alleged former Soviet counterintelligence officer in a June 2016 arranged by Donald Trump Jr.

SCHIFF: Reports Kushner amended security form “should cause his clearance to be reviewed”, and if he was not candid “immediately revoked”.

 — @kylegriffin1

Concern over Jared Kushner’s security clearance are not new. In April, The New York Times revealed that Kushner had omitted dozens of meetings on his disclosure form, including a December meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The Kislyack meeting would later be the chief reason why former national security adviser retired Lt. General Michael Flynn would be fired from the administration after misleading Vice President Mike Pence on his contacts with the ambassador.

The same month Kushner met with Kislyack, he had another meeting he failed to disclose, this time, with Sergey Gorkov, president of a Russian state-run Vnesheconombank. The bank is currently under United States sanctions after Moscow annexed Crimea. At the time Kushner took the meeting, he was searching for investors to help finance a building on Fifth Avenue.

Section of the SF-86 security clearance form requesting disclosure of foreign contacts

Scrutiny of the June 2016 meeting, which has centered around Trump Jr., could ultimately be much more damaging to Kushner.

After the election, Jared Kushner went on to work in the White House, while Trump Jr. returned to the Trump Organization. Kushner is in continuous contact with the country’s most sensitive national security issues. SF-86 forms are required to be 100% accurate. Kushner’s lawyers have claimed that staff members prematurely hit “send” on the clearance form before it was completed. He is currently operating under an interim clearance as he gathers information for the F.B.I in order to seek top-secret clearance. The higher clearance would give Kushner even more access to classified, sensitive information.

Kushner has updated his security clearance forms three now, adding more than 100 names. His lawyers discovered and amended his clearance to include the meeting discovered in the emails a few weeks ago. Kushner’s actions have the potential to set a dangerous precedent, allowing individuals with murky pasts to work in the White House.

Within the next couple of weeks Kushner is expected to cooperate with the Senate Intelligence Committee as it continues it’s investigation into Russian intervention in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.


In Congress, growing calls to revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.