Have Jared Kushner’s business interests in China compromised his policy views with the nation?
As a senior adviser to President Donald Trump (and his son-in-law), Kushner holds significant influence on the chief executive’s opinions on United States relations with China. But in April 2017, around the time of a summit between the two nations at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, officials in American intelligence agencies began to question whether Kushner could be trusted to keep his own interests aside during meetings with Chinese officials.
Kushner frequently met with China’s Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, in the West Wing. According to accounts from intelligence officials, those conversations delved into both the administration’s policies on China as well as Kushner’s own business interests in the nation.
On at least one occasion, Kushner and Ambassador Cui met alone — a move that officials caution against doing, given that what is said between either party cannot be independently confirmed.
“There’s nobody else there in the room to verify what was said and what wasn’t, so the Chinese can go back and claim anything,” one U.S. intelligence official explained.
Officials familiar with the matter conceded that they didn’t necessarily see anything nefarious going on during the meetings they were a part of, even if Kushner was discussing his family’s business interests.
“I never saw any indication that [any attempt to influence Kushner this way] was successful,” another official said.
Nevertheless, the Kushner family’s private financial dealings in China reignites the debate over whether Kushner's interests and his advice to the president aren’t overlapping. We’ve already witnessed problems with this in the past; in May last year, Kushner’s sister deliberately used her brother’s name to help pitch a business venture to Chinese investors.
Ethically speaking, Kushner never should have been involved in the Trump administration to begin with. His familial ties aside, his business dealings make it difficult to discern whether he’s being faithful to the U.S. or to his own bank accounts.
If it’s enough to make intelligence officials suspicious, it should make most Americans wary, too. In discussing both policy and his family’s business ties to China, Kushner casts a cloud of doubt over whether he can be trusted to promote a policy with Beijing that is aligned with our nation’s political interests.