The Times dropped this one late yesterday: Kushner’s Business Got Loans After White House Meetings.

Oh come ON, one wants to say. That obvious? That unabashed? That unsubtle? Just – hi guys, loan my company some money and I’ll make it worth your while?

Early last year, a private equity billionaire started paying regular visits to the White House.

Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo Global Management, was advising Trump administration officials on infrastructure policy. During that period, he met on multiple occasions with Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said three people familiar with the meetings. Among other things, the two men discussed a possible White House job for Mr. Harris.

The job never materialized, but in November, Apollo lent $184 million to Mr. Kushner’s family real estate firm, Kushner Companies. The loan was to refinance the mortgage on a Chicago skyscraper.

Apollo doesn’t normally make such huge loans. That one is three times the size of their average loan.

It was one of the largest loans Kushner Companies received last year. An even larger loan came from Citigroup, which lent the firm and one of its partners $325 million to help finance a group of office buildings in Brooklyn.

That loan was made in the spring of 2017, shortly after Mr. Kushner met in the White House with Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael L. Corbat, according to people briefed on the meeting. The two men talked about financial and trade policy and did not discuss Mr. Kushner’s family business, one person said.

And who are we to doubt it?

“This is exactly why senior government officials, for as long back as I have any experience, don’t maintain any active outside business interests,” said Don Fox, the former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration and, before that, a lawyer for the Air Force and Navy during Republican and Democratic administrations. “The appearance of conflicts of interest is simply too great.”

The White House said talk to Kushner’s lawyer, the lawyer said talk to the spokes, the spokes said nothing happened it was all innocent go away.

Christine Taylor, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said Mr. Kushner’s White House role had not affected the company’s relationships with financial institutions. “Stories like these attempt to make insinuating connections that do not exist to disparage the financial institutions and companies involved,” she said.

Oh fuck off. Conflicts of interest are a real category, and the conflicts of interest that Trump and Kushner have are about the biggest anyone could have. They are in a position to grant favors to people who can reciprocate (Trump loves that word, remember), and that would be corrupt, so we don’t want them to be able to grant favors to people who can help their businesses make more $$$$. That’s standard operating procedure, it’s ethics 101.

Mr. Kushner’s tenure in the White House has been dogged by questions about conflicts of interest between his government work and his family business, in which he remains heavily invested. Mr. Kushner steers American policy in the Middle East, for example, but his family company continues to do deals with Israeli investors.

Thank god Trump is here to clean up, right?

Image result for drain the swamp

Federal ethics regulations restrict government employees from participating in some matters that involve companies with which the official is seeking “a business, contractual or other financial relationship that involves other than a routine consumer transaction.”

Mr. Fox, the ethics expert, said Mr. Kushner risked violating the regulations in his meetings with Citigroup and Apollo executives.

“Why does Jared have to take the meeting?” he asked. “Is there not somebody else who doesn’t have these financial entanglements who can brainstorm freely with these folks?”

It’s not as if Jared is some irreplaceable genius, now is it.

All of the executives who met with Mr. Kushner have lots to gain or lose in Washington.

Apollo has sought ways to benefit from the White House’s possible infrastructure plan. And its executives, including Mr. Harris, had tens of millions of dollars personally at stake in the tax overhaul that was making its way through Washington last year.

Citigroup, one of the country’s largest banks, is heavily regulated by federal agencies and, like other financial companies, is trying to get the government to relax its oversight of the industry.

But that $325 million loan to Kushner Inc is pure coincidence and not a bribe sweetener at all.

Shortly after Kushner Companies received the loan from Apollo, the private equity firm emerged as a beneficiary of the tax cut package that the White House championed. Mr. Trump backed down from his earlier pledge to close a loophole that permits private equity managers to pay taxes on the bulk of their income at rates that are roughly half of ordinary income tax rates. The tax law left the loophole largely intact.


Updating to add:

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