As reported by the Associated Press, Nicole Meyer – sister of Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner – has created a new scandal for the Trump administration by organizing huge events in Shanghai and elsewhere in which she was essentially selling US immigration visas for $500,000 apiece in the hope of raising $150 million from investors. This money would go toward a large luxury apartment project in New Jersey that is being developed – in part – by Kushner companies. To many people, this sounds like a blatant conflict of interest. And it is.
Jared Kushner has supposedly divested himself of control over his company so as to avoid just such conflicts of interest, but having his sister Nicole Meyer carry out this activity for him hardly seems sufficient to distance himself from his business. Particularly when she reportedly made statements indicating that the New Jersey project “means a lot to me and my entire family.”
Nicole Meyer’s entire family includes not only her brother Jared Kushner – who has positioned himself as arguably the second most powerful person in the White House – but also her brother’s father-in-law, who is currently president of the United States.
Nicole Meyer and the EB-Five Visa Program
You might be wondering just how this could happen. Well, in the early 90s – in the closing years of the first George Bush administration – the United States set up a scheme called the EB-Five Visa Program that allowed people to invest large sums of money in projects in the United States and thereby obtain a valid immigration visa. On the surface, this might seem like a good thing. Investment in the United States and all that.
However, it’s a system that’s also easily open to abuse. Anyone looking at the current situation in which Nicole Meyer is traveling around China essentially selling US immigration visas for $500,000 apiece in an effort to acquire $150 million would have to say that something was out of kilter.
In fact, a few years ago the government considered canceling the entire EB-Five Visa Program, but decided against it. Since then, it’s just kept ticking along. In essence, it allows people like Jared Kushner, his sister Nicole Meyer, or anyone else with influence in government to offer up to wealthy patrons guaranteed entry into the United States – for a price.
Many were concerned that the Trump administration and his various minions had the principal goal – once entering the White House – to enrich themselves in every way possible. Donald Trump’s frequent – and very expensive – trips to his own resorts in New Jersey and Florida are just some of the evidence supporting this contention.
Trump’s promotion of his hotel in Washington DC as the premier location for incoming diplomats – and the resulting flood of foreign diplomats and lobbyists into that hotel – is further evidence of this same ongoing conflict of interest.
Trump’s unwillingness to fully divest himself of his business interests by liquidating them and placing the results in a lockbox shows that he’s not serious about ensuring no conflicts of interest occur between his businesses and his duties as president of the United States.
In the same way, Jared Kushner, who has risen to a position of immense power within the White House – usurping supposed kingmaker and former Breitbart editor Stephen Bannon – has himself refused to fully distance himself from his own family’s business interests.
Just as Donald Trump saying that he has handed over his businesses to his children – who he sees or speaks to virtually every day – hardly represents a divestment of business interests, Jared Kushner’s decision to hand over control of his own business – or at least some part of it – to his sister Nicole Meyer speaks volumes about what’s really going on in the Trump White House.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]