Earlier this month, the Intercept reported that Charles Kushner, the father of White House senior advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, had met with Qatari finance minister Ali Sharif al-Emadi in April 2017 about a possible investment by the Qatari sovereign wealth fund in the Kushner's troubled 666 Fifth Ave. property. The report included the stunning detail that, several months later, Kushner backed a decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to cut ties with Qatar, ostensibly over its support of terrorism (read: ties with Iran).
That report is credited with helping encourage Special Counsel Robert Mueller to scrutinize the Kushner's business ties. Since then, media reports suggest that the foreign business ties of the Kushners and the Trumps have come under intense scrutiny.
The elder Kushner must be worried about his son's culpability: He has decided to go on-record to clear up a few misconceptions in the initial report, telling the Washington Post that, while he did meet with Emadi, the meeting was arranged at the behest of the Qatars, who were responsible for the initial overture.
But instead of entertaining their offer, Kushner told WaPo he turned them down, saying he couldn't accept money from foreign sovereign wealth funds.
Jared Kushner’s father met with Qatar’s finance minister three months after President Trump’s inauguration, a New York City session at which funding for a financially troubled real estate project was discussed, the company acknowledged Sunday.
However, Charles Kushner said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of a conflict of interest for his son, who had run the family company until he became Trump’s senior adviser. The elder Kushner said that the Qataris had asked for the meeting, and that he told them he couldn’t accept sovereign funds.
"I was invited to a meeting," he said in a statement to The Washington Post. "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."
The company said Kushner had agreed to the meeting as a courtesy.
The Kushners had initially told the media that they hadn't met with the Qataris to solicit funds for their project - a denial that left open the possibility that the meeting could've been arranged under different terms. The Kushners, who recently announced they would buy out their partner's stake in the property, have struggled to secure outside financing for 666
The admission is the latest sign that, contrary to the vague air of financial impropriety perpetuated by the US media, Donald Trump becoming president may have been one of the worst things to happen to the Kushner Cos. by cutting them off from potential sources of foreign financing. Last year, reports surfaced that the Kushners had been in talks with Anbang Insurance Group to secure financing for the redevelopment of 666 Fifth Avenue, forcing them to scrap the deal to bail out the skyscraper, which has been a persistent financial headache for the family since they bought it for nearly $2 billion in 2007.
But the two companies ended their talks shortly after Bloomberg reported that Anbang's offer was "unusually favorable" to the Kushners. Less than a year later, Anbang was seized by a Chinese insurance regulator. And on Monday, the Washington Post reported that Kushner's father, Charles Kushner, met with Qatar's finance minister three months after President Trump's inauguration over securing funding for 666 Fifth Avenue - but turned down funding to avoid questions of a conflict of interest for Jared, who had run the company before leaving to take a job in the West Wing.
Kushner told WaPo that the Qataris had pushed for the meeting, but he had told them that he couldn't accept sovereign funds.
WaPo also revealed that the Kushners had been working on a deal to secure funding from a private Qatari investment fund run by Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the country's former prime minister.
While Kushner said he broke off the meeting, other sources told WaPo that the Qataris broke it off.
A tentative deal for $500 million fell through because Qatar sought to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after Jared Kushner was named senior White House adviser, according to Tom Barrack, a Trump friend who had suggested Hamad look at investing with the Kushners.
Others have said that Hamad pulled out because his funding was contingent on separate financing with the Chinese insurance fund Anbang, which fell through.
Barrack told The Post that Charles Kushner was "crushed" when the deal fell through.
The Kushners refinances 666 Fifth Ave. after the housing crash, and are scrambling to secure funding to make a $1.2 billion payment due next year. The company has drawn up a costly redevelopment plan they say could dramatically boost the building's value - but they still lack the funding necessary to proceed.