Wednesday 13 December 2017

Keeping up with the Trumps: The six latest developments in the US first family fallout

Jared Kushner arrives in the Rose Garden of the White House
Jared Kushner arrives in the Rose Garden of the White House
Ivanka Trump and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner arrive for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
US President Donald Trump offers a handshake to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit. Photo: AP
(L-R) Vanessa Trump and her husband Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner watch U.S. President Donald Trump cut a cake during the inaugural Armed Services Ball at the National Building Museum January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC
Senate Judicary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) listens to witnesses during a subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC
Donald Trump (R) stands with his son Donald Trump Jr. Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Jared Kushner (L), senior advisor to US President Trump, and his wife Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of US President Trump, attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie philharmonic concert hall on the first day of the G20 economic summit on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

It's been a busy week for the Trump family.

President Trump has come out in support of his son after Donald Trump's Jr's meeting with Russian lawyer

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Donald Trump (R) stands with his son Donald Trump Jr. Credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
 

"My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency," the president said in a statement read to reporters by White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump Jr published emails exchanged between him and Rob Goldstone, a British-born music publicist who set up a meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June last year, two weeks after Donald Trump Sr secured the Republican presidential nomination.

Mr Goldstone wanted to pass on "incriminating" information on Trump's Democratic rival Hilary Clinton. Mr Trump Jr said the meeting "really went nowhere" and that he never told his father about it because there was "nothing to tell".

"In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently."

Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were also present at the meeting

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Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up alongside former campaign manager Paul Manafort (centre) and daughter Ivanka at the Republican Convention Photo: Reuters
 

Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is married to his daughter Ivanka and works as a senior adviser in the White House, were invited by Trump Jr for the meeting in New York City.

Kushner never declared meeting in disclosure form to obtain high level security clearance as part of his role as a senior adviser in the White House. He already had to alter his disclosure form on two occasions: when he forgot about a meeting with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak discussing the possibility of establishing a "backchannel" with Russia and another meeting with a Russian state-owned bank.

Trump Jr might be sacrificed for Kushner

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(L-R) Vanessa Trump and her husband Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner watch U.S. President Donald Trump cut a cake during the inaugural Armed Services Ball at the National Building Museum January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC
 

As an official White House employee, Kushner has more to lose and could compromise the integrity of President Trump's already tarnished administration, whereas his 39-year-old son can distance himself from the White House.

Jared Kushner 'tried and failed to get a $500m loan from Qatar before pushing Trump to take hard line against country'

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Ivanka Trump and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner arrive for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Also developing overnight is a report that Kushner and his father Charles sought assistance from a Qatari billionaire to invest in a development he owns in New York. Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Thani (HBJ) reportedly agreed to help fund the project, but on the condition they found the remaining balance themselves.

After $4bn loan fell through, Kushner Companies could no longer meet the rest of HBJ's funding demands, reports The Intercept. According to one source in the region, HBJ killed the deal. According to another, he simply put it on hold.

A diplomatic crisis centred around Qatar broke out shortly thereafter and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked for "no further escalation by the parties in the region".

Mr Trump, however, unleashed a string of criticism toward the country, calling it a "funder of terrorism at a very high level".

"So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off," he tweeted on 6 June. "They said they would take a hard line on funding, extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar."

The President’s position took Mr Tillerson by surprise, and sources say he suspected Mr Kushner was behind it all.

Republicans are turning on Trump

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Senate Judicary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) listens to witnesses during a subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC
 

"I know Donald Trump Jr is new to politics, I know that Jared Kushner is new to politics, but this is going to require a lot of questions to be asked and answered," Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina.

"Any time you're in a campaign and you get offered from a foreign government to help your campaign, the answer is no. So I don't know what Mr Trump Jr's version of the facts are. Definitely he has to testify."

President Trump has backtracked on his push for a cyber security unit with Russia

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US President Donald Trump offers a handshake to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit. Photo: AP
 

On Sunday, he tweeted that he did not think it could happen, hours after his proposal was harshly criticized by Republicans who said Moscow could not be trusted.

The proposed "impenetrable Cyber Security unit" was intended to address issues like the risk of cyber meddling in elections.

Ash Carter, who was U.S. defense secretary until the end of former Democratic President Barack Obama's administration in January, told CNN flatly: "This is like the guy who robbed your house proposing a working group on burglary."

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