Kushner's 'got to go' if reports about Qatar blockade are true: Sen. Murphy

Monday, March 5, 2018

A leading Democratic senator said Sunday that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner needs to leave his post if recent reports are true alleging the Trump son-in-law took a position on certain Middle East political issues in response to his family's business interests.

The Intercept reported that Kushner's father, Charles Kushner, sought financial support from the Qatari financial minister for the family business's 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York City but failed to get it. Weeks later, Jared Kushner backed diplomatic moves, including a blockade, by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other neighboring countries against Qatar, the Intercept reported.

"If it's true it's damning," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday. "If it's true he's got to go."

Murphy also said that the administration's support of the blockade could have endangered U.S. troops stationed in Qatar.

"If the reason that this administration put U.S. troops at risk in Qatar was to protect the Kushners' financial interests, then that's all the evidence you need to make some big changes in the White House," Murphy said.

The Intercept reported that a White House spokesperson referred questions to Kushner Cos., whose spokesperson said, "We don't comment on who Charlie meets with," and added, "We don't do business with any sovereign funds."

Last week, Jared Kushner's top-secret security clearance was downgraded after White House chief of staff John Kelly imposed new rules about clearances. The background check on Kushner for his security clearance has gone on more than 15 months as officials examine issues in his application, sources have previously told ABC News.

In addition to the report about Kushner and Qatar, The New York Times reported Wednesday that early in 2017, Kushner allegedly held multiple meetings at the White House with executives from two major Wall Street companies. After the meetings, the companies allegedly loaned more than half a billion dollars to Kushner Cos., the Times reported.

President Trump has privately expressed concerns about the potential legal trouble Kushner's family business ties could pose for his presidency, a source previously told ABC News.

In another interview on "This Week" Sunday, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said the fact that Kushner is Trump's son-in-law makes the allegations about him more difficult for the president.

"It does make it more complicated with family," Priebus said.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an ABC News contributor and Trump ally, said some had advised the president against giving staff roles to family members.

"There were many of us who counseled the president... [about] members of his family having official positions, not because they weren't competent or qualified or that the president didn't trust them, but because when circumstances come up that the president couldn't have been aware of, and in a normal situation, you might terminate a staff member for that reason," Christie said.

Kushner, who has divested from parts of the family real estate company, has denied any wrongdoing in a statement. Kushner Cos. also said in a statement obtained by ABC News that his role in the White House has had no impact on their business dealings.

"To suggest that Jared, when taking on his role in the White House, has suddenly affected our long-standing relationships or that we do business differently than we have in the past is made up and without substantiation," the statement read.

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