- The FBI indicted more than 40 people, including financiers and Hollywood celebrities, in a wide-ranging scheme to allegedly bribe university officials to get their children accepted to prestigious schools.
- The scandal prompted some people to bring up the educational history of both President Trump and his son-in-law, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner.
- Kushner was admitted to Harvard after his father, Charles, made a $2.5 million donation to the school.
- According to a biography of the Trump family, Donald Trump transferred from Fordham University to the Wharton School of Business 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 of how both President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, made their way into top schools.
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors indicted more than 40 people in an alleged 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 education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Trump originally attended college at Fordham University in New York. But as Gwenda Blair wrote in her 2001 biography of the Trump family, he transferred to the prestigious Wharton with “respectable” grades. According to Blair, the transfer was also largely due to 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 as 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 to not 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, 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 ten 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, donated $2.5 million 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 then-spokesperson for Kushner, said the accusation that his father bought his 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.