Senior White House advisor Jared Kushner has risen to the top of the list of Trump administration officials facing legal troubles over the past year, but the jeopardy that he faces isn't even entirely unique in his own family. If you've never looked up who Jared Kushner's dad is, then you're in for a real ride.
Charles Kushner, who also goes by Charlie, is the son of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the U.S. in 1949. Charlie's father started a construction business, the assets of which Charlie used to start his real estate development firm, Kushner Companies, in 1985. Kushner was very successful, and he used the fruits of his success to donate to numerous Democratic politicians and Jewish philanthropic causes. However, a little family strife soon led him into a serious run-in with the law.
Kushner found his company under investigation by a grand jury in 2003 for questions about his taxes and campaign contributions. While that investigation was going on, the news broke that Kushner's sister Esther Schulder and her husband William Schulder had given information to the court, the New York Times wrote. In an effort to curtail any further information-sharing on his family's part, Kushner reportedly orchestrated a scene in which a prostitute, hired by Kushner, seduced Schulder in a motel room with hidden cameras.
Kushner then reportedly mailed his sister a copy of the tape that came out of the arranged encounter — but instead of taking it as a threat, she alerted the FBI. This led to an additional charge for Kushner in federal court, where he was already facing charges of tax evasion and making false statements to the FEC: attempting to tamper with a federal witness. Kushner pleaded guilty to everything and was eventually sentenced to two years in prison.
Now long out of prison, Kushner was asked if he was interested in a presidential pardon, now that he could be in line to receive one. “I would prefer not to have a pardon," Kushner told the New York Times, because of the additional publicity that it would draw.
With his company now facing the threat of numerous investigations again, Kushner seems unfazed. “Go knock yourselves out for the next 10 years,” he told the New York Times. “We didn’t do anything wrong.”
Kushner might have to wait to see if the authorities agree about that, however. Charlie handed control of the business over to Jared, his eldest son, before he went to prison — and now Jared's presence in the White House is causing issues for the family company he took over, even now that Charlie has regained some measure of the control he once had.
One potential problem for Kushner Companies was that Jared's sister Nicole Meyer gave a speech in Beijing that highlighted the company's connection to someone so high up in the government and hawked the EB-5 visa, which gives foreign investors a path to citizenship if they invest $500,000 in a development project. The New York Times also reports that investigators are interested in several of Kushner's dealings with Deutsche Bank and various meetings that Jared held with Kushner Companies' lenders and partners while he was an administration official. Any or all of those meetings could represent conflict of interest situations for Jared, but the Times reports that Charlie Kushner said that at least two of the meetings in most in question were about transactions that Jared was not involved in.
The answer to whether Kushner Companies does indeed have nothing to hide or Charlie is just standing up for his son will come out at some point in the next several years. For now, the colorful Kushner characters are unlikely to leave the public eye any time soon.