- Charles Kushner, the father of Jared Kushner, explained his controversial meeting with the Qatari finance minister last year.
- He told The Real Deal in an interview that the meeting was “a wrong thing to do,” and said he would decline such meetings in the future.
- He added that, “None of us knew the rules of government or what we should do, what we shouldn’t do.”
Charles Kushner, the real-estate developer and father of President Donald Trump’s senior adviser, Jared, said in an interview with The Real Deal that his much-scrutinized meeting with the Qatari finance minister last year was “wrong.”
The meeting occurred in New York City just months after Trump’s inauguration, and the men discussed financing for Kushner’s 41-story tower at 666 Fifth Avenue, which has struggled financially for years.
“We realized after that meeting, that it was a wrong thing to do,” Kushner said. “And subsequently, if someone wants to call us from a sovereign fund or any way connected with any government, we will tell them that we can’t meet.”
Jared and Charles Kushner purchased 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007 for a whopping $1.8 billion – a move that has long been perceived in Manhattan real estate circles as foolish. Today, the building is reportedly 30% empty and brings in just half of its annual mortgage fees.
After media reports of Kushner’s meeting surfaced earlier this year, Kushner had said he attended the meeting as a courtesy to the Qatari official, and turned down possible funding to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest for Jared Kushner.
When asked by The Real Deal why Kushner took the meeting only to decline funding, and why he hadn’t simply refused to attend the meeting, Kushner conceded that that was “exactly” what they should have done.
“Don’t forget Jared moving to Washington, he had to transition in about three weeks. None of us knew the rules of government or what we should do, what we shouldn’t do,” he said. “We made a decision, wrongly, in the beginning, saying, ‘We’ll speak to people as long as we’re clear and honest with them and upfront with them that we can’t do business with them.’ Cause we’re not going to, we’re not forever going to be prohibited, have a conflict of interest.”
Kushner also told The Real Deal that he gave no indication during the meeting that Qatar’s sovereign wealth could invest in his company in the future, after conflict of interest concerns are moot.
“We don’t bullshit around with people,” he said. “And we’re very, very direct and we’re very transparent,” Kushner said. “And we just tell the truth. So we don’t play games. We make it clear that we can’t do business with you.”
Eliza Relman contributed reporting.