Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team is looking into whether business talks that President Donald Trump‘s son-in-law Jared Kushner had with foreigners during the presidential transition ended up affecting White House policies toward those people, NBC News reported Friday.
NBC News, citing various sources, said Mueller’s investigators are focusing on Kushner’s discussions with people from Qatar and Turkey, along with individuals from Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates.
The investigators want to know whether White House policies were designed to benefit or retaliate against those Kushner had spoken to.
The NBC News story noted that the White House last year backed an economic blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the weeks after the collapse of talks that the Kushner Companies had with Qatari officials about their sovereign wealth fund investing in a Kushner building in New York City.
Kushner, who became a senior White House advisor to Trump in January 2017, met with a former prime minister of Qatar in December 2016, according to the article.
Some top officials in the Qatari government believe the Trump administration’s position on the blockade may have been retaliation pushed by Kushner, who was upset about the deal falling through, NBC News reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
But the White House has said the blockade was due to Qatar’s alleged support of terrorism.
Kushner also had met with the chairman of China’s Anbang Insurance Group during the transition. But that company later decided not to invest in the Kushner Companies’ building at 666 Fifth Avenue.
A spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer told NBC News in a prepared statement that “time and again, unnamed sources seeking only mischief have misled the media about what the Special Counsel is doing.”
“Mr. Kushner’s role in the campaign and transition was to be a point person for completely appropriate contacts from foreign officials and he did not mix his or his former company’s business in those contacts and any claim otherwise is false,” the spokesman said.
Mueller’s office declined to comment to NBC News for its story.
Mueller was originally appointed as special counsel last year to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians during that campaign. Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion.
But since then, Mueller’s probe has expanded to include investigations of consulting work that former Trump campaign officials did for a pro-Russia leader of Ukraine, as well as Kushner’s business dealings.