Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's Washington, D.C., mansion landlord was granted lease renewals from the Trump administration Wednesday for a proposed copper-nickel mine that could turn a protected Minnesota wilderness area into a "gigantic new potty," a former chief ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush warned. He then expressed disappointment in the first daughter.
The lease approvals paved the path for the Twin Metals Minnesota mine—a subsidiary of the mining company Antofagasta, which is owned by Chilean businessman Andrónico Luksic—to get regulatory approval from the state.
Former White House ethics chief and University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter took aim at Luksic Thursday, alleging that he rented to Trump and Kushner for political reasons and that the mine could be environmentally disastrous for the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Luksic bought a $5.5 million mansion in the Kalorama neighborhood shortly after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and rents it to the president's daughter and son-in-law for $15,000 monthly, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.
"This is the mansion in Washington that Jared and Ivanka are renting from the Chilean billionaire whose lease for copper-nickel mining in the Boundary Waters was renewed yesterday by the Interior Department," Painter tweeted with a link to story with photos of the ritzy Washington, D.C., home.
"So what happens when he forgets to flush?" Painter continued, referring to Luksic.
Painter then tweeted a Center for American Progress story from earlier this month on how sulfide-ore mining, the process Twin Metals would use, poses a pollution threat to the watershed around Boundary Waters.
"Take a look at the gigantic new potty that Jared and Ivanka's landlord is renting from the federal government," Painter commented.
Painter explained his potty analogy to Newsweek: "It's a big bowl of water—you've got the Boundary Waters and lakes and you're going to get sulfide and all this stuff into the waterways and it's just going to sit there because you actually can't flush."
"Mining companies say they can go and clean it up, which is an extremely expensive and complex process," Painter continued. "You can figure out a way to clean out the toilet bowl without flushing but it's going to take you a long time."
Twin Metals Minnesota in a statement Wednesday on the renewals said it was "pleased" and "will meet and, where possible, exceed all state and federal environmental standards."
"It's very good news for us," Twin Metals CEO Kelly Osborne stated, "and for the communities in northeastern Minnesota who look forward to the hundreds of jobs and major economic development this mine will bring."
Antofagasta could not immediately be reached for comment by Newsweek on Thursday.
Painter said he was not surprised at the approvals of the leases, which had been terminated by the Obama administration citing environmental risks. But he reiterated that Trump and Kushner renting from Luksic was politically problematic and could stifle the first daughter from fighting for the environment as advocates had hoped.
"We can't prove that the (Washington) lease caused her not to get involved and not to speak out for the Boundary Waters. You can't prove it but it's very disappointing," Painter said. "She has the ear of her father she's spoken out for environmental issues but we heard nothing, not a peep, from Ivanka."
Luksic, following a May 6 Newsweek story on similar criticisms by Painter, tweeted the news was "fake" and reiterated what he said two years ago.
"Through companies that I control, we have several tenants in the US. The Kushner family, whom I don't know and who pay a market price, is one of them," he tweeted. "Unacceptable to be unjustly connected to a false story with a political purpose in the US."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Thursday.