The timing of Kushner’s December meeting with executives from VneshEconomBank, or VEB, at the suggestion of the Russian ambassador, has also raised concerns from government watchdog groups across the political spectrum.
“You worry about a quid pro quo, you worry about Kushner getting some financial arrangement from a Russian financial institution, and you worry about White House policy being shaped in a way that benefits either those banks or Russia at large,” Schweizer told ABC News. “That's the concern.”
On Good Morning America on Friday, ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos pressed Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway to explain the nature of Kushner’s meeting with Gorkov, but she repeatedly refused to do so. “Jared has said that he’s willing to go and share whatever information he has,” Conway said. “He actually has made that clear for many months now, and he looks forward to doing that.”
Real estate analysts told ABC News that Jared Kushner’s first major acquisition, a Fifth Avenue office tower signifying his family’s move from New Jersey into Manhattan real estate, is shouldering a $1.3 billion in loans coming due in two years, and it is not bringing in sufficient rental income. An attempt by Kushner to broker a deal with a Chinese company to refinance and redevelop the building fell through shortly after the election.
Thomas Fink, a senior vice president at the firm Trepp, which analyzes commercial real estate, said the Kushner firm appears to be in a sizeable financial hole.
“I don't think they have a billion plus in the bank to just write a check to pay off the mortgage,” Fink said. “Potentially they could sell the building, but you know, what will someone pay for it-- that remains to be seen.”
A senior White House official said that the conversation was "general and inconsequential" and that Kushner took the meeting as part of his campaign role of interfacing with foreign dignitaries. The bank, however, described the discussion to ABC News as "negotiations" in which "the parties discussed the business practices applied by foreign development banks, as well as most promising business lines and sectors."
Gorkov brushed off an ABC News reporter Thursday at an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, refusing to answer further questions about the meeting. A spokesman for Kushner referred reporters to a statement issued by White House officials in March, dismissing the meeting as unimportant.
“This bank is of particular concern, because of course it's the subject of sanctions, but also because Gorkov, the head of this bank, comes out of a school essentially for Russian spies,” Schiff told ABC News on Thursday. “He's someone that allegedly is very close to Putin, and I don't think if this was made at the suggestion as alleged by Ambassador Kislyak, I don't think the choice of Gorkov or this bank was any kind of coincidence.”
Patrick Reevell in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Alex Hosenball, Cho Park and Pete Madden in New York contributed to this report.