In just the latest glaring conflict of interest in the Trump White House, a business partner of President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner is seeking a $ 2 billion government contract to build the new FBI headquarters.
New York real estate firm Vornado Realty Trust is among the three finalists for the lucrative gig, ABC News reported Monday.
The company’s founder and chairman, Steven Roth, is a friend of Trump’s who works with his infrastructure advisory council and even traveled last week with the President to Cincinnati as part of Trump’s “Infrastructure Week.” The two stood on a stage together as Trump hailed Roth as one of the “greatest builders in America.”
Roth’s firm is jointly invested in two buildings with the Trump Organization, and it is negotiating with the Kushner Company over its investments in the 666 Fifth Avenue skyscraper in New York.
“This is a case where the conflict is direct,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, told ABC.
The Trumps “have business ties to a company that stands to benefit from a direct decision of the administration,” he said.
A spokesman for Kushner said the Trump son-in-law was taking White House ethics “very seriously” to avoid a conflict, but it is unclear whether Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to Trump, will play any part in deciding who gets the deal later this year.
The contract will not only give the winning firm the rights to build a new FBI center in Washington, but also to take ownership of the current headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Trump and Kushner both retain control of some of their real estate holdings, refusing to fully divest despite their new roles in government. Ethics experts have been pointing out apparently blatant conflicts since Trump took office, starting with the promoting of his new Washington hotel — which sits on Pennsylvania Avenue, across from the White House and close to the FBI headquarters.
Kushner’s company, meanwhile, offered American visas to Chinese investors in exchange for investments of at least $ 500,000 in one of the family’s upcoming luxury properties in Jersey City.