GOP Oversight Chair Refuses To Probe Kushner's Mideast 'Influence Peddling'

Jared Kushner at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

Last year House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer acknowledged former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner had “crossed the line” when he accepted $2 billion in foreign investment funds from the government of Saudi Arabia as he started up a private investment firm just months after leaving the White House.

Now, Rep. Comer (R-KY) says he will not open an investigation into any possible wrongdoing, Huffpost reports, despite top Democrats alleging Kushner engaged in “apparent influence peddling and quid pro quo deals.”

On Tuesday, the top Democrat on Comer’s Oversight Committee, ranking member Jamie Raskin, and Democrat Robert Garcia (D-CA), the ranking member on the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs, formally requested Comer “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.”

“This Committee cannot claim to be ‘investigating foreign nationals’ attempts to target and coerce high-ranking U.S. officials’ family members by providing money or other benefits in exchange for certain actions while continuing to ignore these matters,” Raskin and Garcia wrote. “We therefore urge you to work with us to finally investigate Mr. Kushner’s receipt of billions of dollars from foreign governments in deals that appear to be quid pro quos for actions he undertook as senior White House adviser in Donald Trump’s Administration.”

The American people are deeply concerned about these business dealings and Mr. Kushner’s apparent influence peddling. We must address

those concerns with a fair, impartial, and public process to understand the truth and to institute meaningful reforms to safeguard public confidence in our executive branch.”

The two Democrats in their letter say their “request comes in light of allegations that Jared Kushner is pursuing new foreign business deals, just as Donald Trump becomes the presumptive Republican nominee for the presidency. Last year, well before these new allegations came to light, Chairman Comer had already conceded that Jared Kushner’s conduct ‘crossed the line of ethics’ and promised that the Oversight Committee would ‘have some questions for Trump and some of his family members, including Jared Kushner.'”

Raskin and Garcia paint a picture of “Kushner’s pattern of profiting off of his time in the White House.”

Citing The New York Times (apparently this article), they write, “Jared Kushner was closing in on investments in Albania and Serbia, leveraging relationships he built during his time as a senior adviser in his father-in-law’s White House. Reportedly, Mr. Kushner is considering an investment on the site of the former Yugoslav Ministry of Defense.”

“Mr. Kushner is reportedly being advised by Richard Grenell, another former senior Trump Administration official who served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany and, concomitantly, as ‘special envoy for peace negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo.’ Mr. Grenell reportedly ‘pushed a related plan’ for redevelopment of the same site during his time in the Trump Administration.”

“In pursuing investment opportunities in Albania, Mr. Grenell and Mr. Kushner have been openly leveraging their relationship with Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania. While Commander-in-Chief, President Trump received unconstitutional payments from Prime Minister Rama and other senior Albanian government officials who spent thousands of dollars at theTrump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., over three separate stays,” Raskin and Garcia write.

They also allege, “Mr. Kushner successfully overruled State Department officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to make President Trump’s first foreign trip as President to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Kushner personally intervened to inflate the value of a U.S.-Saudi arms deal and to finalize the deal President Trump signed, which was worth $110 billion. Mr. Kushner

also provided diplomatic cover and support to the Crown Prince after the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, an American permanent resident and journalist. Mr. Khashoggi’s murder was assessed by American Intelligence to have been approved by the Crown Prince himself.”

Despite their extensive allegations, Comer is refusing to open an investigation.

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

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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Liz Cheney Trump GOP

Liz Cheney

Donald Trump is in a bit of a financial bind: He can't post the $464 million bond necessary to buy him time while he appeals the ruling in the New York civil fraud case brought by state Attorney General Letitia James.

Trump has reportedly floated the enticing idea of underwriting his nearly half-billion obligation to some 30 different organizations and, shockingly, found no takers.

Trump absorbed the news with his usual grace, complaining bitterly about it Tuesday morning in at least seven posts on his social media platform Truth Social (which was down at the time of this writing).

“I would be forced to mortgage or sell Great Assets, perhaps at Fire Sale prices, and if and when I win the Appeal, they would be gone. Does that make sense?” Trump fumed in one post.

Trump's excessively public self-victimization for being found guilty of breaking the law is a clarion call for cash—from his MAGA cultists and whoever else might find it useful to potentially have a grateful asset in the White House.

As The New Republic's Timothy Noah told Greg Sargent on his new "Daily Blast" podcast, "Trump is broke, on the verge of bankruptcy, and he's running for president. It's a situation just ripe for corruption."

The presidency, should Trump win it, is effectively up for sale to the highest bidder.

But Trump's personal financial issues are just the tip of the iceberg for the man who just last week secured enough delegates to be the 2024 Republican nominee for president.

As his legal troubles continue to mount, the small-dollar donors who have funded much of Trump's legal bills are starting to turn off the spigot. CNBC's Brian Schwartz reports that in 2023, Trump’s reelection campaign raised 62.5 percent less money from small-dollar donors than in 2019, the year preceding the last presidential election. When the dust settled in 2020, Trump had raised nearly half of his total cash haul—$378 million—from small-dollar donations.

But the Trump campaign's looming cash crunch doesn't end there: the Republican Party's traditional well-heeled donor class is also missing in action. Many of those donors kept Nikki Haley’s rival bid for the GOP nomination afloat. Now they’re directing more of their funds to congressional races and, in particular, the Republican effort to win back the Senate.

Trump hasn't done himself any favors by promising to "permanently" bar Haley donors from his MAGA movement. In fact, the Biden campaign clearly sees an opening there and is making a play for Haley donors.

Biden made his own fundraising pitch when Haley ended her campaign, tweeting, "You don’t have to agree with me on everything to know MAGA extremism is a threat to this country. We need everyone on board—join our campaign." The tweet included a link to the Biden-Harris campaign fundraising page.

To review, Trump may have topped out in terms of what he can raise from his MAGA loyalists, while the bougie donors who fueled Haley's campaign are still MIA on Trump's presidential bid.

Since securing the required delegates, Trump has taken over the Republican National Committee with high hopes of a cash infusion he can use to pay his legal bills. Except the RNC is broke—entering the year with just $8 million cash on hand and nearly $2 million in debt. Those are some downright dismal numbers. And despite Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump promising to pay her father-in-law's legal bills, the RNC faces the same uphill fundraising battle that Trump does.

Trump’s archenemy, former Rep. Liz Cheney, took the opportunity to send out a buyer beware missive on Monday.

"Is it just a coincidence that Donald Trump took over the RNC, fired most of its Republican staff, and installed his daughter-law as co-chair at the same time he’s become desperate for money and can’t post bond?" Cheney tweeted. "Donors better beware."

While this month's Daily Kos/Civiqs poll found that 63 percent of Republican voters are fine with the RNC paying Trump's bills, it appears many of those voters aren't personally coughing up the cash they used to.

That's a serious problem for the RNC and, perhaps, all of its associated committees, though it's possible GOP donors will shore up Senate Republicans’ finances even as they take a pass on Trump. As for House Republicans, it remains to be seen whether House Speaker Mike Johnson can keep pace with his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, who was actually a fundraising stud.

And amid these harrowing cash-strapped times for Trump, the Republican Party is convulsing its way through a nasty divorce that will require a lot of time, effort, and money to clean up before November.

That's a big messaging problem that is going to translate into a massive money problem. Even if Sephora sold enough lipstick to put on that pig, Trump wouldn’t have the cash on hand to buy it.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.