Just one day after the New York Times exposed conflicts of interest involving her husband, Middle East expert and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, CNN is reporting that the FBI is investigating a deal involving Ivanka Trump and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver.
The 63-story, 616-foot skyscraper opened a month after President Donald Trump took office and was financed by Holborn, a company run by 37-year old Malyasian businessman Joo Kim Tiah. His father, Tony Tiah Thee Kian, backs the company financially and “has a checkered business history, including securities laws violations and false statements to the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange,” according to CNN.
According to a disclosure report released last June, the Trump Organization had made over $5 million in royalties from the Vancouver property as of April 2017, two months after it opened.
Although the hotel opening was attended by Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka played an integral role in getting the project going in 2013:
One of the senior vice-presidents pulled me aside and said: ‘Joo Kim, it’s really important in your presentation that you connect with Ivanka. In other words: no one else is in the room, you have to understand that,” Tiah recalled at the October 2015 launch of a “Trump Luxe” VIP service for condo residents. “In that meeting, it was clearly just me and Ivanka talking about the project,” he recalled.
After an agreement was reached, Ivanka Trump recalled at the same event that she worked closely with Tiah: “We were working on a lot on the design elements and really forming the vision.”
Interestingly, CNN says it’s unclear why this deal in particular is being examined, but speculates that it could be because the hotel opened after Trump’s inauguration or because of the “flow of foreign money.”
Politico reported Tuesday that Kushner’s security clearance was downgraded from top-secret to secret, along with other White House aides who had “interim top-secret clearance.” Ivanka Trump’s ethics lawyer pushed back on the notion that new scrutiny on the Vancouver deal would affect Ivanka, however, telling CNN that it was “wrong that any hurdle, obstacle, concern, red flag or problem has been raised with respect to Ms. Trump or her clearance application.”
Who could have imagined that having a Business President who hires his kids and their spouses to be top advisors in the administration would go so awry?