- The FBI indicted more than 40 people, including financiers and Hollywood celebrities, accused of taking part in a wide-ranging scheme to bribe university officials to get their children accepted to prestigious schools.
- The scandal prompted some people to bring up the educational histories of both President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser.
- Kushner was admitted to Harvard University after his father, Charles, pledged a $US2.5 million donation to the school.
- According to a biography of the Trump family, Trump transferred from Fordham University to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the college’s business school, after an interview with an admissions officer who knew his brother.
- Kushner and Trump were not listed in the FBI investigation.
The bombshell investigation into a complex college-admissions scheme has reinvigorated discussions on how both President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, made their ways into top schools.
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors indicted more than 40 people on charges they were involved in a scheme to ensure that the children of wealthy individuals, including financiers and Hollywood celebrities, were admitted to elite colleges.
Trump routinely touts his intellect and his education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, which is the college’s business school.
Trump originally attended college at Fordham University in New York. But in her 2001 biography of the Trump family, Gwenda Blair wrote Trump transferred to the prestigious Wharton with “respectable” grades. According to Blair, the transfer was also largely because of an interview with an admissions officer who was friends with Donald’s brother Freddy Trump.
In addition, multiple New York Times articles have credited Trump with graduating first in his class from Wharton. But there is no such evidence of that, and a publication of the 1968 dean’s list does not mention Trump’s name.
Last month, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee that the president often required him to threaten schools not to release grades or SAT scores.
“When I say con man, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores,” Cohen told the committee. “As I mentioned, I’m giving the committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump’s direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission.”
As for Kushner, the author Daniel Golden wrote in a 2006 book titled “The Price of Admission” about a large donation made to Harvard University shortly before Kushner’s acceptance to the top-tier Ivy League school.
Golden recapped the potential quid pro quo 10 years later in an article for ProPublica.
According to Golden, the future White House adviser’s father, Charles Kushner, a wealthy New Jersey real-estate developer, pledged a $US2.5 million donation to Harvard right before his son’s acceptance.
“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” Golden quoted an administrator at Kushner’s high school as saying. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”
Risa Heller, a spokesperson for Kushner at the time, said the accusation that his father bought Kushner’s way into Harvard “is and always has been false.”
While critics pointed to Trump’s and Kushner’s stories as evidence of the influence of wealth on the college-admissions process, neither instance includes criminal wrongdoing similar to Tuesday’s indictments.
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