Congress probes Jared Kushner’s dealings amid 666 Fifth Avenue sale

Democrats seek records on diplomatic activities around Brookfield deal

Jared Kushner and 666 Fifth Avenue (Getty, David Shankbone, CC BY 2.5 - via Wikimedia Commons)
Jared Kushner and 666 Fifth Avenue (Getty, David Shankbone, CC BY 2.5 - via Wikimedia Commons)

Congress is upping the ante in a probe of Jared Kushner’s diplomatic dealings around the time of his family firm’s sale of a prominent office building in Manhattan.

Two committees sent letters to the State Department and Department of Defense this week, requesting material regarding a potential “financial conflict of interest” by Kushner during the sale of 666 Fifth Avenue, the Washington Post reported. The Senate Finance Committee and House Oversight Committee, prodded by new undisclosed emails and documents, are seeking material pertaining to Kushner’s role in Middle East policy as an aide to his father-in-law Donald Trump’s presidential administration.

Democrats first launched an investigation into Kushner two years ago, questioning whether the building’s sale was linked to the lifting of a Saudi blockade of Qatar.

Kushner Companies purchased the building in 2007 for a record-shattering $1.8 billion, seeking to reposition the property. But the financial crisis unfolded shortly thereafter and destroyed those plans, putting the firm in jeopardy.

A decade later, a $1.4 billion payment on debt at the building came due and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund rebuffed chairman Charlie Kushner’s plea to invest roughly $1 billion in the property. Jared took a trip to the Middle East in 2017 to discuss a Qatar blockade with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a move ultimately backed by Trump.

Read more

The following year, Brookfield Asset Management paid $1.28 billion for the ground lease under the Fifth Avenue building and paid almost 100 years of rent upfront. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund was the second-largest stakeholder in Brookfield Property Partners at the time.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The restrictions on Qatar were lifted shortly afterwards.

Brookfield has maintained that Qatari representatives had no involvement in the Fifth Avenue deal. Then-chairman Ric Clark emphasized publicly there was no “quid pro quo.

Neither Jared nor Charles Kushner responded to the Post’s request for comment on the investigation ramp-up. The Qatar Investment Authority told the outlet it would not comment.

Sen. Ron Wyden claimed Brookfield was “stonewalling” the committees. Brookfield responded, saying the firm has “been fully transparent and responded to all requests.”

“As we have said all along, the decision to acquire this building was based purely on its own merits — it was an iconic, underperforming building in a prime location in need of significant redevelopment,” the firm said.

Jared Kushner resigned from his family’s firm to serve in Trump’s administration and now runs a private equity firm, which is facing backlash over $2 billion raised from a fund led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The New York Times reported in April the raise came only months after Kushner left his role as senior adviser at the White House.

— Holden Walter-Warner