Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who was the face of LGBTQ outreach for former President Trump, bragged to Jared Kushner about a major German company’s endorsement of the Trump administration’s global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality, suggesting the former White House adviser had a greater role or interest than previously known.
The latest emails obtained by the Washington Blade from its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department, which was filed by attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP and seeks Grenell’s emails related to the initiative, includes the communication from Grenell to Kushner.
“Huge” says Grenell simply in the email to Kushner forwarding a tweet from Daimler AG, now known as the Mercedes-Benz Group, in support of decriminalization at a time when Grenell was working in Germany to build support for the initiative.
It’s unclear why Grenell sought to engage with Kushner on the initiative, nor whether Kushner offered any response. No reply from Kushner is included in the emails obtained by the Blade, although such a response could come in a further email production under the FOIA lawsuit or may have happened offline.
The message, however, is consistent with the perception that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were among the players in the Trump administration who supported LGBTQ rights, privately pushing to include that in President Trump’s agenda and resisting efforts to roll back LGBTQ rights. Critics would point to policies such as the transgender military ban and regulations allowing anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the name of religious freedom as evidence they failed in that effort, although bright spots, such as the decriminalization initiative and the first-ever appointment of an openly gay person to an acting Cabinet-level role, were unprecedented for a Republican administration.
Insiders close to the decriminalization initiative at the time it was underway told the Blade one White House adviser who was “all over” the effort was Ivanka Trump, although she never publicly articulated anything about the plan.
Grenell didn’t respond to a request for comment from the Blade on why he emailed Kushner about the initiative. Kushner couldn’t be reached for comment, although the Blade sought to contact him through his private equity firm, Affinity Partners.
The email from Grenell to Kushner is revealed at a time when Kushner is facing criticism and accusations of corruption after The New York Times reported the Public Investment Fund — led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler — contributed a $2 billion investment to Affinity Partners six months after Kushner left the White House in the aftermath of the Trump administration taking no action after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded the Saudi government gave the order to assassinate and dismember Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi columnist for The Washington Post.
Zeeshan Aleem, writer and editor for MSNBC, wrote in an op-ed piece the Saudi leaders’s $2 billion contribution to Kushner’s firm “sure looks corrupt” because it’s a bad deal for the Saudi fund financially and Kushner is inexperienced in private equity.
“One cannot rule out that MBS views it as a down payment as well,” Aleem writes. “If Trump were to return to the White House, MBS has proven a willingness to pay handsomely for cushy treatment. And even if it’s not Trump returning to the White House, perhaps a Trump-influenced figure like a future President Ron DeSantis would take note of how things went down between MBS and Trump World.”
Saudi Arabia is among the 10 countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential election, faced criticism for accepting Saudi money as a contribution to the Clinton Foundation because of the country’s record on LGBTQ and women’s rights. The money, however, was used for human rights, including medications for HIV treatment and prevention in Africa, as opposed to personal enrichment.