Though the majority of the attention being paid to the 2016 Trump campaign revolves around a possible conspiracy with Russia to assure that Trump became president, a new report from The New Yorker suggests that China may now have gained a foothold in the administration via senior adviser Jared Kushner.
Lacking any foreign policy experience whatsoever, Kushner was abruptly named as a senior adviser to the president shortly after the election and given a huge portfolio: Middle East peace, the opioid crisis, diplomacy with Mexico, reforming care for veterans, reforming the criminal justice system, reinventing government, and diplomacy with China.
The last of those tasks Kushner was given by his father-in-law — diplomacy with China — is where things get interesting.
According to the report appearing in the latest issue of The New Yorker, after Kushner assumed his new role in the West Wing, he was visited by a man named Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States. Kushner and Cui began to meet regularly, and that made officials in the U.S. government very uneasy:
“Cui’s frequent encounters with Kushner made some people in the U.S. government uncomfortable. On at least one occasion, they met alone, which counterintelligence officials considered risky. ‘There’s nobody else there in the room to verify what was said and what wasn’t, so the Chinese can go back and claim anything,’ a former senior U.S. official who was briefed on the meetings said. ‘I’m sorry, Jared—do you think your background is going to allow you to be able to outsmart the Chinese Ambassador?’ Kushner, the official added, ‘is actually pretty smart. He just has limited life experiences. He was acting with naïveté.'”
While meeting with the Chinese Ambassador in private was concerning enough, the fact that Kushner was also being given access to the President’s Daily Brief (P.D.B.) of intelligence also meant that he had access to the most top-secret information available to anyone in Washington. And it made him the perfect target for any foreign nation that wanted to know what the CIA and National Security Agency might be telling the American head of state regarding their country.
Here’s where the entire Kushner-China story gets downright dangerous: His real estate dealings meant the newly-minted White House adviser could potentially be bought. And meetings Kushner took with Wu Xiaohui, the chairman of China’s Anbang Insurance Group, to discuss Wu’s possible investment in a New York building project of Kushner’s, suggested that China might be trying to buy a member of the Trump administration. Kushner and his family stood to make as much as $400 millon from a deal with Anbang. But when Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) suggested such a deal might be a conflict of interest, the two companies abandoned the negotiations.
The F.B.I. was concerned enough about Kushner’s meeting with members of the Chinese delegation that they paid him a visit:
“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.”
The larger question remains: Has Jared Kushner been compromised by the Chinese as well as the Russians? And why does he remain in the White House when he may well be a major security risk to the United States?