Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald Trump and a former White House adviser, is not the first person to receive large sums of money since stepping down as senior adviser to the White House. A president or family member of a former president is not the first person to receive money using his position. But the Saudis’ $ 2 billion stake in Kushner’s new private equity dwarfs all previous post-presidential money, both in size and purpose.
The Saudi sovereign fund, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has pledged $ 2 billion to Kushner’s affinity partners, following warnings from advisers that the New York Times warned of the dangers of Kushner’s “inexperience” and “dissatisfaction” on April 10. Diligence (identification of Trump’s personal business investments) and “excessive” asset management fees.
As an adviser to Trump’s White House, Kushner was a close ally of the Crown Prince, who had been advising and protecting journalist Jamal Kashoghi after the assassination of journalist Jamal Kashoki at the Saudi embassy in Saudi Arabia by military and intelligence officials.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe Salman then ordered the assassination of Jamal Kashoki, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the Saudi regime. When Kushner was at the White House, he was in contact with the Crown Prince via off-the-book WhatsApp text messages.
Like many of the things that Trump and his family did, Kushner’s $ 2 billion Saudi payout exemplifies the pre-existing disease in American life. In this case, the disease is the post-presidential commercialization that has seized power for the past 40 years.
As author Thomas Defrank called it, the “commercialized former presidency” began the round of paid speakers following a short period of non-election, when Gerald Ford held positions on corporate boards in the late 1970s, at the dawn of the neoliberal era. President of the United States.
“[E]The former president should go to his grave in Grand Rapids and thank him for making sure they become instant millionaires, ”said Defrank, who wrote Ford’s biography.
Most former presidents have followed suit. Before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Ronald Reagan accepted multi-million dollar talking deals from Japanese companies. Corporations George H.W. Bush was paid a dollar for the talks, and he received a paid honorary position at the Canadian Mining Company.
Since 2001, Bill Clinton has further advanced the commercialized presidency by paying more than $ 100 million. And George W. While Bush was plagued by his deep influence, he did not take the money like Clinton did, paying $ 15 million in speech fees during his first three years in office.
After stepping down in 2017, Barack Obama attacked the speaking community and charged $ 400,000 per speech. He and his wife Michelle Obama formed a media production company and signed a multi-year contract with Netflix.
The family members of the president and vice presidents also tried to make money from their contacts. Decades ago, this usually included siblings who registered as Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy or Libya’s first lady Hillary Clinton’s brother Tony Wheat as a foreign agent in the consulting business.
Now that presidents are so old, their children are getting more and more attention: for example, when Hunter Biden was vice president, Hunter Biden’s consulting and campaigning and selling his art since his father became president.
Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the White House, stands among Saudi officials as President Donald Trump speaks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2018. (Photo: Jabin Potsford / via The Washington Post Getty Images)
There are many reasons why Saudi Arabia’s investment in Kushner stands apart from past business opportunities for former presidents and their families.
First, it is significantly larger than other payments. This is $ 2 billion with “B”, not millions. Yes, Kushner will Only He earns $ 25 million a year from management fees and a share of the profits (if any), but according to the Times, it infuses almost all of Kushner’s capital, which is absolutely crucial to his financial success.
Second, unlike the money earned by other former presidents or their family members, it is the largest sum coming from a foreign government with personal policy interests in the US government, which Kushner was happy to support while in the White House.
Third, perhaps most importantly, all former presidents who have commercialized their previous presidency have been constitutionally barred from running for re-election or have not planned to do so. (Ford considered running in the 1980s and the corporate board at the time refused the seats, but eventually decided not to.) However, Trump is likely to run again in 2024 and is considered a pioneer for the Republican nominee.
If Trump returns to the White House, the payment to his son-in-law by a foreign government with a key interest in influencing US foreign policy will outweigh the controversy over the sale of Hunter Biden’s paintings.
But Kushner’s big pay is still in the same category of problems raised by post – presidential commercialization. All of these payments and corporate deals create the appearance of corruption as corporations grow bigger and richer burned as powerful corporations, global rich and fossil fuel-rich dictatorships pay money to former US leaders. Fossil fuels are bringing the world to the brink.
There is no available solution to this problem. The For the law of the peopleThe Voting Rights, Campaign Funding and Ethics Reform Bill, passed in the House in 2021, will require new revelations for members of the President’s family while in office and will include a two-year cooling-off period before any executive branch official can lobby their former counterparts. , But none of these solve the post-presidential buck-racking problem.
Walter Shoppe, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, recommended that in an interview with former government officials, a version of the constitution’s payroll be enacted, now part of the government’s transparency non – profit plan for government oversight. Bloomberg.
Instead of the law, the public can only expect a change in culture – a vibrational change – among our former presidents to appear to serve the public good rather than their personal selfishness.
Or there is always the policy jokingly proposed by former President William Howard Taft, who offered his own medicine to cure the problem of former presidents: “The proper and scientific administration of the chloroform or lotus tree fruit, and thus incinerate the flesh of the quiet departed at a funeral to satisfy the wishes of his friends and family.” , Protect the country from the troubling fear that it may make an appropriate decision for the life of someone who has held a very high position, while at the same time invading the invader from time to time.
“He would have made his record once, and his demise at the ceremony will free the country from the burden of thinking about how he can support himself and his family, take his place in history and pass on to the public. For new people and new actions,” Taft continued. “I appreciate considering this method. . “
Daft did not comment on the children of former presidents or their spouses.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.