(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democracy Forward filed suit against the Trump Administration after the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) refused to disclose Jared Kushner’s full involvement in the Administration’s repeated renewals of the EB-5 investor visa program, despite reports of federal investigations into the Kushner family business’s potential abuse of the program. The suit comes on the heels of a Washington Post report revealing that foreign officials in at least four countries may have discussed ways of using Kushner’s business ties for leverage, as well as multiple reports that Kushner’s security clearance has been downgraded.
The EB-5 program has served as a major funding source for Kushner Companies real estate developments. The suit follows reports that federal prosecutors in New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the Kushner family business’s use and potential abuse of EB-5 investments to fund real estate projects after Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared’s sister and a Kushner Companies principal, noted the family’s close ties to the Trump White House to entice EB-5 investors.
“A polite term for this White House’s approach to its business conflicts might be ‘ethically challenged’,” said Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy. “The public deserves to know whether helping out Kushner’s family motivated President Trump’s renewal of the EB-5 program, and to what extent Kushner’s personal financial needs are steering White House policy on this issue.”
In May 2017, President Trump renewed the about-to-expire EB-5 program. Hours later, Nicole Kushner Meyer urged Chinese investors to finance a Kushner family project in New Jersey via the EB-5 investor visa at an event that included video footage of President Trump and touted the project’s importance to her family.
Democracy Forward filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all records relating to the May 2017 extension and communications regarding Jared Kushner, Nicole Kushner Meyer and the EB-5 program. The government has to date failed to respond. In October 2018, the court ordered the government to bring in a representative from the United States Department of State, as well as from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to the next status conference, scheduled for November.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.