After much speculation, and inconclusive statements, the White House has finally clarified that Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is not currently the subject of ethics investigations.
Ethics investigators have been making a big stink over a business loan that Jared got for his family’s real estate empire (the Kushners have a New York real estate empire, like the Trumps).
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary, announced that – for now – the White House is, “not probing whether Jared Kushner violated the law” by attending meetings with companies that sanctioned the loans. They just need to investigate if any laws pertaining to the ethics were possibly broken.
Is this a ‘distinction without a difference’ though?
“While the White House counsel’s office investigates does follow up with staff to assist with compliance with various ethics standards, it is not probing whether Jared Kushner violated the law,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The White House has told the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) that they are aware of the reports, news and headlines concerning the loans, but insist that everything was above-board and “appropriate.”
The head of OGE has told Democratic lawmakers that the White House has been investigating whether or not the criminal laws or ethics rules were broken during Jarred Kushner’s dealings.
The firm that belonged to Kushner and his family had accepted a loan of $184 million dollars from the real estate division of Apollo Global Management, and another loan of $325 million dollars from Citigroup. These loans were granted after an official meeting had been held between Kushner and the top executives of the respective companies.
“I have discussed this matter with the White House counsel’s office in order to ensure that they have begun the process of ascertaining the facts necessary to determine whether any law or regulation has been violated,” wrote the acting OGE Director, David Apol, to Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill) last week.
Abbe Lowell, the private attorney of Kushner, has said that after going through the reports regarding the loans, “the White House counsel concluded there were no issues involving Jared.”
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s top Democrat and Representative Elijah Cummings (Md.) were not satisfied with the explanation given Kushner’s private attorney, and has pressed for a full internal investigation of events surrounding the acquisition of Kushner’s loans.
Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, whose Russia Investigation is desperately trying to gather any dirt on the President that it can find, has also focused his attention on Kushner’s personal finances, and business dealings.