(JTA) — Trump transition officials have told the Obama White House that foreign policy matters that need to be brought to President-elect Donald Trump’s attention should be relayed through his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the New York Times reported.
The article that appeared on the front page of the Sunday edition of the newspaper also reported that Kushner has hired a leading Washington law firm, WilmerHale, to advise him on how to comply with federal ethics laws should he join the White House staff as an adviser to the president.
The Times cited “a person close to the transition and a government official with direct knowledge of the arrangement” in reporting that Kushner, 36, is the go-to guy on foreign policy for the transition.
When the Chinese ambassador to the United States called the White House in early December to express its anger at Trump’s phone call with the president of Taiwan, a break with diplomatic etiquette, the White House relayed the information through Kushner and not Trump’s national security team, according to the newspaper. This despite the fact that Kushner’s company was in the middle of negotiations with Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese financial conglomerate, about plans to about plans to redevelop a Kushner family holding on 5th Ave. in downtown Manhattan, and that the company has Chinese investors.
Kushner reportedly met with Anbang CEO Wu Xiaohui at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, which Wu owns, days after the presidential election to discuss the redevelopment plans, according to the Times.
The Times quoted WilmerHale partner Jamie Gorelick as saying that Kushner is taking “significant steps” to free himself from the family business. “Mr. Kushner is committed to complying with federal ethics laws, and we have been consulting with the Office of Government Ethics regarding the steps he would take,” she said.
Among those steps is resigning as CEO of Kushner Companies. She added that he would also divest “substantial assets,” which is not required by law.
The article pointed out that while Trump has said his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law would play a central role in dealing with the Israel and expressed confidence that Kushner could help bring peace to the Middle East, Kushner’s company has received multiple loans from Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim. The bank is currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegations that it helped wealthy Americans hide assets and evade taxes.