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- Charles Kushner, the father of White House senior Jared Kushner, made rare public comments to The New York Times about his family’s business prospects.
- Despite several investigations and scandals regarding his son and his family business, Kushner remains undeterred, and maintains his family did nothing wrong.
- Kushner himself pleaded guilty to various charges in a 2004 case that led to a two-year prison sentence.
As investigations at the federal and local levels close in on White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and the Kushner family business, Jared’s father Charles Kushner has come out of the shadows to defend his family name.
Kushner, who founded Kushner Companies in 1985, spoke to The New York Times in a story published Sunday, and said he has complete faith that investigators will find no wrongdoing amid the mountains of documents he said he has voluntarily handed over to them.
“Go knock yourselves out for the next 10 years,” he said. “We didn’t do anything wrong.”
As the younger Kushner has become embroiled in the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller due to his alleged foreign contacts with Russian actors and Middle Eastern investors, the Kushner family and its business have come under scrutiny for some serious allegations including enticing Chinese investors with White House access, receiving loans from companies after White House meetings, and falsifying building documents.
In the most recent scandal, Kushner Companies has been accused of faking documents for about 34 of its New York City properties and low-balling the number of rent-controlled tenants in these buildings, according to the Associated Press.
Despite hopes that his son’s White House position would alleviate pressure on the Kushner family name, the opposite has happened – Jared has instead focused attention on Kushner Companies, and the prestige of the position has faded as Jared lost his top secret security clearance in February.
First and foremost, though, the elder Kushner has tried his best to make sure his son avoids looking like he is profiting from his time in the White House. Kushner turned down a financing deal with Qatar last year in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest for his son.
“I was invited to a meeting,” he told the The Washington Post in a statement. “Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments. We informed the Qatar representatives of our decision and they agreed. Even if they were there ready to wire the money, we would not have taken it.”
Financial woes at 666 Fifth Avenue
But the Kushners need the money – the tower that Jared purchased in 2007, 666 Fifth Avenue, has become a financial nightmare for the family as they try to come up with a profitable way to use the building. A financing deal for a construction project on the property fell through because of public scrutiny after Kushner joined the White House, and now, Kushner Companies has 10 months to pay off a $1.2 billion mortgage on the tower. The building has allegedly significantly declined in value since the Kushners first bought it.
But Charles remains optimistic about his company’s financial situation, and says investors and banks remain loyal to him.
“We are actively involved in more than $3 billion of projects and banks are providing $1.5 billion of financing in the first six months of this year,” he told The Times. “Does that seem like we are lacking in funds?”
Kushner has, for the most part, tried to stay out of the public eye, especially given his sons’ prominent position in a controversial White House. Kushner also learned the hard way what investigators can do – in 2004, Kushner pleaded guilty to witness retaliation, tax violations, and Federal Election Commission violations after trying to frame his brother-in-law after he allegedly cooperated with a federal probe into Kushner’s business.
The cloud of that case, which led to a two-year prison stint for the elder Kushner, continues to hang over his public image today.