Democrats call for special counsel probe into Jared Kushner’s ‘prohibited campaign fundraising activities’

Calls for investigation arrive shortly after special counsel recommends firing for Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act violations

Chris Riotta
New York
Monday 17 June 2019 19:57 BST
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Jared Kushner says he had no improper conduct with Russian officials after appearing before Senate

A pair of Democrats have urged the special counsel’s office to investigate Jared Kushner for alleged “prohibited campaign fundraising activities” after reports emerged last month he was meeting with major political donors at the White House.

Ted Lieu, a California Democrat who has called for Mr Kushner’s resignation ever since he joined Donald Trump’s administration in 2017, was joined by Virginia Democrat Don Byer in a letter sent to the office of the special counsel on Monday morning. In it, the politicians allege Mr Kushner “is violating the Hatch Act” by “taking a direct role in raising funds for the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump.”

“These reports strongly suggest that Kushner is violating the Hatch Act’s prohibitions against any Executive agency employees ‘knowingly solicit[ing], accept[ing], or receiv[ing] a political contribution from any person,’” the Democrats wrote in the letter. “We also believe Mr Kushner’s poor track record of compliance with the spirit of the Hatch Act, for instance his use of his official title in campaign literature and his discussion of campaign matters during official activities including the White House staff meeting, merit enhanced scrutiny.”

Their request follows a Yahoo News report published in May that stated Mr Kushner was participating in “multiple daily conversations” with Mr Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and spearheaded a meeting at the White House to “discuss the fund-raising strategy for 2020” that also featured Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury secretary, and Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, along with a “group of big donors.”

The report also noted Mr Kushner was seeking “control of the fund-raising” efforts launched by the president’s re-election campaign.

This isn’t the first time the pair of Democrats have brought attention to Mr Kushner in the White House. Previously, the two politicians sent multiple letters to the White House and Justice Department about the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

They questioned how Mr Kushner was able to get a security clearance despite a vast web of foreign debt and initially unreported contacts with foreigners during the 2016 campaign.

The special counsel — which is not the same as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office but rather a separate government watchdog agency — recommended last week for Mr Trump to fire another of his advisors, Kellyanne Conway, for reportedly violating the Hatch Act as well.

The office described her as a “repeat offender” by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.

Federal law prohibits employees of the executive branch from using their official authority or influence to affect the result of an election. Mr Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are exempt from the Hatch Act, but there are no exceptions for White House employees.

The recommendation to fire Conway is the first time the watchdog office has recommended the removal of a White House official over Hatch Act violations.

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Mr Trump has said he has no plans on firing Ms Conway. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Additional reporting by AP

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