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Friday, May 26, 2017
Target! The Possible Legal Trouble of Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner (whom if you haven't been under a rock, is President Trump's son-in-law) is reportedly under federal investigation for his possible involvement in suspected illicit Russian meddling or interference (whatever those terms mean) in last year's election.
One wonders if envy of a rich kid with family connections and an uber-attractive young wife isn't a real motive here, to say to someone:
Ha! Serves you right.
It is easier to focus just on what the ramifications of such a probe are, in a fact-agnostic way without regard for whether anything has actually been criminal, or who is involved, or who won the election. The technical details of such an investigation, and the protocols which might govern its conduct, are extensive and obtuse. To simplify matters, there should be no assumption that Kushner (or anyone else) is under criminal investigation in the sense of being a "subject" or "target" of a probe.
I put the words "subject" and "target" in quotes, because each term has a specific meaning according to a very thick guide put out for use by the United States Attorneys and their respective offices. Those men and women are the ones who actually have to decide whether, and whom, to prosecute, not the FBI. That's the mistake everyone has made with former FBI Director James Comey, who did not and never had the authority to decide whom or even if to prosecute. (Comey's agency investigates and recommends, but the Justice Department and district United States Attorneys decide that question.)
Both terms involve a requirement that the person, whether subject or target (and one's status can change, incidentally), be notified of his or her rights to appear before the investigating grand jury, as well as to assert Fifth Amendment rights if requested to appear.
As for the meaning of a "target," that generally means the government is operating on the assumption the target is a "putative defendant" against whom there is "substantial evidence" linking the person to a crime, and is more likely than not to be charged for some criminal offense. Anyone who is a "target" is likely to be charged and indicted, but not always.
The term "subject" means that the subject's conduct falls within the scope of what the grand jury is investigating, and that "conduct" may not necessarily be criminal, only that it means the subject is involved in the focus of the probe.
Anyone who is notified that he or she is either a subject or a target should hire a qualified criminal defense lawyer, promptly.
As for Kushner, there is no indication he is either a subject or target. At least not yet and perhaps never.
What we do know is he has a high-enough profile to make him, at least in the colloquial sense, a target of the ambitious. In addition, his family connections have been a double-edged sword, presumed to give him a head start in life.
Consider Charles Kushner, Jared's father. The elder Kushner pleaded guilty to various tax crimes after an investigation during which some rather sordid details of Kushner's retribution against family members came out, causing the sentencing judge to call Jared's father a "revengeful, hateful man." (And the prosecutor? Then United States Attorney Chris Christie.)
Yet it is that Kushner family fortune which (presumably) helped the younger Kushner acquire the Manhattan elite-class weekly New York Observer ten years ago, and that plus the real estate industry connections likely positioned Kushner to enter into and move about circles where he would meet . . . Donald and Ivanka Trump.
Now consider the legal troubles of Donald Trump, trickling . . . no, pouring . . . down on Jared.
This is a still young man whose elders, his father and father-in-law, have acted in ways and he has been made to pay a price.
I seriously question whether this is a circumstance anyone should celebrate.