Kushner's business dealings may have influenced US policy towards Qatar: Report

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Federal investigators are looking into whether Kushner's business talks with Qatar and Turkey affected White House policy

Jared Kushner is US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior White House adviser (Reuters)
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Monday 5 March 2018 10:58 UTC
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Federal investigators are looking into whether Jared Kushner's business talks with foreign officials or businesspeople during the presidential transition had any influence on later White House policy toward those with whom he spoke, NBC News reported on Friday.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked witnesses about President Donald Trump's son in law and Middle East adviser had made attempts to secure financing for his family's real estate ventures, focusing specifically on his talks with people from Qatar and Turkey, as well as Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, NBC News said.

Qatari government officials who visited the United States earlier this year considered turning over information to Mueller they say demonstrates that their neighbours in the Gulf were coordinating with Kushner to hurt Qatar, NBC News said, citing four people familiar with the matter.

The Qatari officials decided against cooperating with Mueller for now out of fear it would further strain the country's relations with the White House, the individuals told NBC News.

Kushner, the son-in-law of US President Donald Trump and a senior White House adviser, sought a $500m investment from Qatar for a New York skyscraper shortly before the diplomatic crisis erupted between Qatar and a group of Gulf countries, an Intercept article said in July 2017.

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The account raised suspicions that Trump's foreign policy is related to the family's business interests.

Muller's team also has expressed interest in a meeting Kushner held at Trump Tower in December 2016 with former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al Thani, people familiar with the meeting told NBC News.

The Kushner Companies' Fifth Avenue property is $1.4bn in debt that is due in 2019, NBC News cited the sources as saying. Talks with Qatari officials about investing continued after Kushner entered the White House and stepped away from the business, they said.

After the collapse of the talks between Qatar and the Kushner companies, the White House supported a blockade against Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which accused Qatar of backing terrorism. Kushner has played a major role in Middle East policy.

Federal investigators have reached out to Turkish nationals for information on Kushner through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's legal attache office in Ankara, NBC News said.

NBC cited unidentified people familiar with Mueller's investigation, as well as witnesses who have been interviewed by Mueller's team. The special counsel is also looking at Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and whether there was any collusion with the Trump campaign.

A spokesman for Mueller's office, Peter Carr, declined to comment on the report.

A spokesman for Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell said the report was the "mischief" of unidentified sources conducting a "misinformation campaign" to mislead the news media.

"Mr Kushner's role in the campaign and transition was to be a point person for completely appropriate contacts from foreign officials and he did not mix his or his former company's business in those contacts," the spokesman, Peter Mirijanian, said in a statement. "Any claim otherwise is false."

Russia has denied interfering in the election, and Trump has repeatedly said there was no collusion.

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that officials from the UAE, China, Israel and Mexico had talked privately about ways to manipulate Kushner using his business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience. The Post report cited unnamed US officials familiar with intelligence reports on the issue.

Kushner has lost his access to top-secret US intelligence information in recent weeks because of his inability to obtain a security clearance at that level.