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Hullabaloo


Thursday, March 21, 2019

 
Nothing personal, strictly business

by digby



Remember this major scandal of the Carter administration?

In late 1978 and early 1979, Billy Carter visited Libya three times with a contingent from Georgia. He eventually registered as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan. (Edwin P. Wilson claimed he had seen a telegram showing that Libya paid Billy Carter $2 million.) This led to a Senate hearing on alleged influence peddling which the press named Billygate. A Senate sub-committee was called To Investigate Activities of Individuals Representing Interests of Foreign Governments (Billy Carter—Libya Investigation). On August 4, 1980, President Jimmy Carter wrote: "I am deeply concerned that Billy has received funds from Libya and that he may be under obligation to Libya. These facts will govern my relationship with Billy as long as I am president. Billy has had no influence on U.S. policy or actions concerning Libya in the past, and he will have no influence in the future."

He didn't have any influence on Libya policy. Obviously. Billy was a very small time hustler who didn't know Libya from Connecticut and nobody ever thought the president would actually listen to anything he said.

This from another brother,however, is very different:

In late October 2017, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, dropped into Saudi Arabia for an unannounced visit to the desert retreat of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was in the process of consolidating his power. The two men talked privately late into the night.

Just a day earlier, Mr. Kushner’s younger brother, Josh, then 32, was flying out of the kingdom.

Jared came to talk policy, but Josh was there on business.

The founder of an eight-year-old venture capital firm, Josh Kushner had spent the three days before his brother’s arrival at an investor conference, where Prince Mohammed had promised to spend billions of dollars on a high-tech future for Saudi Arabia.

As others sat through speeches in a gilded conference hall, several participants said, the younger Mr. Kushner frequently ducked out for more exclusive conversations with Saudi officials.

Some government ethics lawyers say those conversations — never hidden, but not previously reported — create the appearance of a potential conflict of interest. Although Jared Kushner severed his ties with his brother’s company and divested his interest in his brother’s funds around the time he entered the White House, he was nonetheless discussing American policy with the rulers of the kingdom at virtually the same time that his brother was talking business with their top aides.

There is no doubt that Saudi officials have been playing with brother Jared in a big way, for a lot of reasons. There is evidence they even ran a blockade against American ally Qatar, with Trump's approval, to pressure the Qataris to lend the Kushner family a boatload of money.

By all accounts Joshua Kushner is not his brother and is antagonistic toward Trump. But I'd guess that didn't get in the way of trying to make a deal knowing his brother was deep in the Saudis pocket. Nothing personal, strictly business.

Trump, Ivanka and Jared refused to divest themselves of their global businesses with billions of dollars putting American national security at risk.

Jummy Carter, on the other hand, was forced to sell his family's peanut farm so as to ensure there was no appearance of conflict of interest.

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