Senator says Kushner must go if he swayed foreign policy against Qatar for personal financial reasons

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Sunday “if it’s true” that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner swayed U.S. foreign policy against Qatar for personal financial reasons, he “has to go.”

“If it’s true, it’s damning. If it’s true, Jared Kushner has to go,” Murphy, a prominent voice on foreign policy, said of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

The Intercept reported on Friday that representatives of Kushner Companies, including Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, met with Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi in New York in April in a bid to secure Qatari financing for the firm’s distressed signature property, 666 5th Avenue. 

There was a follow-up meeting between Kushner Companies representatives and Qatari officials the following day. But a deal never materialized.

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Where Jared Kushner has traveled since becoming Senior Advisor

North Charleston & South Carolina

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive on Air Force One to accompany U.S. President Donald Trump for his tour of the Boeing South Carolina facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Florida

U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump (C) and her family, husband Jared Kushner (L) and children Joseph and Arabella Kushner, arrive aboard the Marine One helicopter with the president to board Air Force One for travel to Florida from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Michigan

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (C) attends a roundtable discussion held by U.S. President Donald Trump with auto industry leaders at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Germany

U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner (L) speaks with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before departing for Iraq from Ramstein Air Base, Germany April 3, 2017. DoD/Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Iraq

Jared Kushner, senior advisor and son-in-law to U.S. President Donald Trump, meets with service members at a forward operating base near Qayyarah West in Iraq, April 4, 2017. DoD/Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Handout via REUTERS 

Florida

China's first lady Peng Liyuan talks with Trump Senior Advisor Jared Kushner as they attend a dinner at the start of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Saudi Arabia

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (C) arrives to join U.S. President Donald Trump and the rest of the U.S. delegation to meet with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Israel 

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner leaves a note at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Italy

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump arrive to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

New Jersey

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner holds his son Theo as U.S. President Donald Trump with the first family arrives at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S., after a weekend at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

West Bank

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with White House senior advisor Jared Kushner in the West Bank City of Ramallah June 21, 2017. Thaer Ghanaim/PPO/Handout via REUTERS 

Poland 

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, senior advisor of President Donald Trump, arrive aboard Air Force One at Warsaw military airport in Warsaw, Poland July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

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Then, in early June, a coalition of nations led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. They proceeded to blockade the small, natural gas-rich nation, ostensibly in retaliation for Qatar’s support of islamist movements abroad and cordial relationship with Iran. The blockade remains in effect.

Trump surprised many in the diplomatic community by initially backing the Saudis and Emiratis so whole-heartedly. Qatar, a longtime American partner, is home to a key strategic base for the U.S. military in the Middle East where thousands of troops are deployed.

“We could not understand why the Trump administration was so firmly taking the Saudis’ side in this dispute between the Saudis, the Emiratis and Qatar, because the United States has very important interests in Qatar,” Murphy said Sunday.

Murphy noted the large U.S. troop presence in Qatar.

RELATED: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in Saudi Arabia, Israel

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Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in Saudi Arabia, Israel
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Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in Saudi Arabia, Israel
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump listen to U.S. President Donald Trump speak to the media at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Debbie Hill/Pool
Ivanka Trump looks on during her visit to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Heidi Levine/Pool
Ivanka Trump stands in for her father U.S. President Donald Trump by speaking in his place at a social media conference called Tweeps in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. first lady Melania Trump (2nd R), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R), Ivanka Trump (L) and her husband, White House senior advisor, Jared Kushner (2nd L) take their seats before U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his remarks to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (C) and his wife Ivanka Trump walk on the tarmac after arriving with U.S. President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One at King Khalid Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (C) talks to his wife Ivanka Trump during a welcoming ceremony for her father U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Ivanka Trump looks on during her visit to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (C) and his wife Ivanka Trump (R) arrive to tour the new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology with U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (not pictured) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump arrive together with U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania to a farewell ceremony upon their departure on Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Ivanka Trump is seen at a ceremony where her father US President Donald Trump received the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal from Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (top L) and his wife Ivanka Trump (top C) look on as U.S. President Donald Trump and the first lady Melania Trump participate in a wreath-laying at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump make their way to board Air Force One before departing from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L-R) White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, daughter of US president Ivanka Trump, cantor Shay Abramson and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau attend a wreath laying ceremony during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum, commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, on May 23, 2017, in Jerusalem. / AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
US president's senior advisor Jared Kushner is seen during a press conference by the US president and Palestinian leader at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MAY 22: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout photo provided by the Israel Government Press Office (GPO), US President Donald J Trump (L) and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at the King David Hotel May 22, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. Trump arrived for a 28-hour visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority areas on his first foreign trip since taking office in January. (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images)
(From L to R) White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump listen to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (R) during a visit the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalems Old City on May 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONEN ZVULUN (Photo credit should read RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images)
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“To so firmly take the side of the Saudis against the Qataris that could potentially result in the downward spiral of the Qatari economy put thousands of Americans at risk,” he said.

Jared Kushner’s friendship with UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman raised suspicion at the time he had encouraged Trump to take a hard line against Qatar.

News of the Kushner family’s attempts to gain Qatari financing for a family-owned property raises the prospect that Kushner advised the president to side with the Saudis and Emiratis for personal financial reasons. 

If verified, that should be grounds for Kushner’s ouster, Murphy said.

“If the reason this administration put U.S. troops at risk in Qatar was to protect the Kushners’ financial interests, then that’s all the evidence you need to make some big changes in the White House,” he said.

NBC News reported Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Kushner’s business discussions with foreign powers during the presidential transition, well before his father’s April 2017 meeting, later influenced American foreign policy. In addition to Qatari representatives, Kushner met with figures from Turkey, Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, according to the report.

The potentially damaging revelations about Kushner surfaced during an already punishing week for the Trump relative and confidant. Kushner, who had enjoyed a temporary top-secret security clearance, saw his clearance downgraded by the White House to merely “secret.”

Although the justification for the downgrade was not immediately clear, experts note that it was unusual for someone to have a temporary clearance for so long without receiving permanent access. The White House’s decision not to grant him a permanent security clearance likely sprang from intelligence agencies’ concerns that foreign governments have tried to influence him and that he initially failed to report his meetings with officials from those governments.

Also speaking on “This Week,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a onetime Trump transition team chief, implied that Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump (who’s also a White House adviser), should consider stepping down from their posts for the good of the president. (As a United States attorney, Christie sent Kushner’s father to prison, which likely chilled his relationship with Jared.)

Asked by Stephanopoulos whether Trump should fire Kushner, Christie responded, “The president’s going to have to make that judgment.” 

He went on to suggest that Kushner and Ivanka might do well to spare Trump the difficulty of spurning family members by volunteering their resignations.

“The situation is made much worse by the fact that we have family members in the White House,” he said. “So for Jared and for Ivanka and for all the other members of the family who were involved in one way or the other, I think everybody’s got to focus on what’s best for the president.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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