Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz faces ethics questions for $296M deal that could fall under Russia probe
The lawyer who’s representing President Donald Trump in the Justice Department investigation into his Russia ties was involved in a property transaction involving Jared Kushner that could potentially be probed under the same inquiry.
Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz’s law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, represented the owners of the former New York Times building in a 2015 transaction that gave Trump son-in-law Kushner partial ownership of the Times Square property, reported The Guardian.
The real estate company owned by Kushner, now a senior White House adviser, paid $296 million for the ownership stake in 2015 and then then refinanced that debt in October 2016 through a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank, according to the Washington Post, that could fall under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Deutsche Bank has extended $364 million in loans to Trump — the most of any lender — while gaining a reputation for Russian money laundering, which former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was believed to be investigating in the southern district of New York before the president fired him.
The German bank was ordered by U.S. and British regulators to pay $628 million in fines earlier this year for failing to stop suspicious transfers of more than $10 billion out of Russia.
Kasowitz bragged to friends and colleagues that he urged Trump to fire Bharara, four sources told Pro Publica, although the attorney is known for exaggerating his exploits.
Deutsche Bank officials conducted their own investigation of Trump’s personal account to look for suspicious links to Russia, The Guardian previously reported, although no such evidence was turned up in the internal review.
The bank also examined accounts held by Kushner and his mother, as well as Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and also a White House adviser.
Congressional Democrats have called for an investigation into Trump’s possible conflicts of interest regarding his Deutsche Bank loans, saying the president and his “inner circle” are in position to steer the Department of Justice away from issues involving a lender to which they owe hundreds of millions.
Kushner refinanced his loan for the Times Square property just days ahead of teh 2016 election through Deutsche Bank, which was at the time negotiating a settlement with the government on a mortgage fraud case and charges from New York state regulators involving a possible Russian money-laundering scheme.
Those two cases were settled in December and January, during the presidential transition period, and Kushner failed to disclose the corporate loan and his personal guarantee on his financial disclosure form upon taking a job in the White House.