The Trump money laundering empire doesn't just involve Russian money, as two stories involving Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner hit yesterday, buried under the government shutdown fight. First, Kushner is the point man behind the Trump organization's Chinese financial ties
. And once again the focus is on a foreign ambassador to the US, in this case China's chief diplomat in America, Cui Tiankai, and Rupert Murdoch's ex-wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch.
By the spring of 2017, investigators in charge of evaluating whether to give Kushner a permanent security clearance had new information to consider. U.S. intelligence agencies aggressively target Chinese government communications, including Cui’s reports to Beijing about his meetings in the United States.
According to current and former officials briefed on U.S. intelligence about Chinese communications, Chinese officials said that Cui and Kushner, in meetings to prepare for the summit at Mar-a-Lago, discussed Kushner’s business interests along with policy. Some intelligence officials became concerned that the Chinese government was seeking to use business inducements to influence Kushner’s views. The intelligence wasn’t conclusive, according to those briefed on the matter. “I never saw any indication that it was successful,” a former senior official said, of Chinese efforts to compromise Kushner. The Chinese could have mischaracterized their discussions with Kushner. But the intelligence reports triggered alarms that Chinese officials were attempting to exploit Kushner’s close relationship with the President, which could yield benefits over time. “They’re in it for the long haul,” the former official said. (A spokesman for Kushner said, “There was never a time—never—that Mr. Kushner spoke to any foreign officials, in the campaign, transition, and in the Administration, about any personal or family business. He was scrupulous in this regard.”)
In March, 2017, Bill Priestap, the F.B.I.’s chief of counterintelligence, visited the White House and briefed Kushner about the danger of foreign-influence operations, according to three officials familiar with the meeting. Priestap told Kushner that he was among the top intelligence targets worldwide, and was being targeted not only by China but by every other major intelligence service as well, including those of the Russians and the Israelis. Priestap said that foreign spy agencies could use diplomats and spies masquerading as students and journalists to collect information about him. (An F.B.I. spokesperson declined to comment.)
Priestap and Kushner discussed some of Kushner’s contacts, including Wendi Deng Murdoch, the ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch. Kushner and Ivanka Trump had known her for about a decade, and she was a regular guest at their Washington home. U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials have long speculated about Wendi Murdoch’s ties to the Chinese government. Internally, some Chinese officials spoke about her in ways that suggested they had influence over her, the former senior official, who was briefed on the intelligence, said. Other officials said that the intelligence was inconclusive.
The allegations against Wendi Murdoch are complicated by her divorce from Rupert Murdoch. On January 15th, some of the allegations were published in the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. (A spokesperson for Wendi Murdoch said, “The idea that she is involved in anything covert is so absurd, it could only have come from an unnamed source.” A spokesperson for Rupert Murdoch said that Murdoch does not believe Wendi is a spy.)
When Kushner was briefed by the F.B.I., he saw little cause for alarm, according to a person close to Kushner. He had no doubt that China and other countries were trying to persuade him to do things or to provide information, but he was, despite his inexperience in diplomacy and intelligence, confident in his ability to navigate these situations. After all, he told others, New York real estate is not “a baby’s business.”
Kushner thought he was smarter than the intelligence communities of both Russia and China. Of course, he was wrong. Not only does the FBI have Kushner in their sights, but so does Robert Mueller. And Mueller just got a heap of new ammo to use in his fight from the Germans
, who are cleaning house over at the Trumps' favorite European money laundering outfit, Deutsche Bank.
A German business magazine is reporting that Deutsche Bank, the German financial giant which is a major lender to both President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, identified “suspicious transactions” related to Kushner family accounts, and has reported them to German banking regulators. The bank is reportedly willing to provide the information to special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team of investigators.
Manager Magazin, a respected German business magazine, reported in its latest print edition, which hit German newsstands on Friday, that Paul Achleitner, chairman of Deutsche Bank’s board, had the bank conduct an internal investigation and the results were troubling. Those results have been turned over to the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority—Germany’s bank regulatory agency, which is commonly known as BaFin.
“Achleitner’s internal detectives were embarrassed to deliver their interim report regarding real estate tycoon [Jared] Kushner to the financial regulator BaFin,” the Manager Magazin article, translated from German, reports. “Their finding: There are indications that Donald Trump’s son-in-law or persons or companies close to him could have channeled suspicious monies through Deutsche Bank as part of their business dealings.”
The magazine did not provide additional details about the “suspicious monies”, but Manager Magazin reports that Deutsche Bank’s leadership is worried about the public relations hit the bank might take when—not if—the results of the investigation are turned over to Mueller. “But what BaFin will do about [the bank’s findings] is not the bank’s greatest concern,” the article states. “Rather, it’s the noise that US special counsel Robert Mueller (73) will make in his pursuit of Trump. For he will likely obtain this information—a giant risk to [the bank’s] reputation.”
The article also claims that the investigation into Kushner and his family business is not over, and that internal technical issues are complicating the search, adding that “Achleitner simply doesn’t have a view of the whole picture.” Deutsche Bank did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s personal attorney.
If the report is true, it joins a flurry of efforts to unravel the Kushners’ financial dealings with the bank. In December, a German newspaper reported that Mueller had subpoenaed documents from Deutsche Bank —a report that Trump’s attorneys pushed back on. The bank is, by far, Trump’s largest creditor, having lent him more than $300 million in recent years through it’s private bank—a division that caters to wealthy clients and is sometimes willing to make loans that the commercial banking division won’t. The Trumps and Kushners relationship to Deutsche Bank is a particularly large conflict of interest, given the bank’s history of clashing with regulators—it has made several multi-billion dollar settlements with regulators in the US and Europe for its role in the LIBOR-rigging scandal and the 2008 mortgage crisis. It continues to be under investigation for its role in a possible money-laundering scheme that helped Russians evade sanctions and move money out of that country.
In other words, Kushner's involvement in both the money laundering side and the political influence side of the Mueller investigation is as deep as it gets. I wonder if he'll rat out his father to save his own neck?
Ahh, but we know Steve Bannon is cooperating with Mueller, so maybe Kushner's window has closed. We'll see. 2018 is when Mueller closes in on the biggest scandal in US history.