The Further Adventures of Jared

Trump Maladministration

I’m trying to remember what it was I used to write about before Trump became president. Anyone?

Today The Intercept reported that it appears Jared Kushner arranged to punish Qatar for not giving him a loan.

THE REAL ESTATE firm tied to the family of presidential son-in-law and top White House adviser Jared Kushner made a direct pitch to Qatar’s minister of finance in April 2017 in an attempt to secure investment in a critically distressed asset in the company’s portfolio, according to two sources. At the previously unreported meeting, Jared Kushner’s father Charles, who runs Kushner Companies, and Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi discussed financing for the Kushners’ signature 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York City.

I’m starting to think the Book of Revelations really is about the Trump Administration. If you need background on the 666 Fifth Avenue property, see Kushner Money Blues. The bottom line is that Kushner needs a massive amount of financing for a white elephant property with massive mortgage coming due in less than a year, and if he doesn’t get the money, the family fortune is pretty much ruined.

The failure to broker the deal would be followed only a month later by a Middle Eastern diplomatic row in which Jared Kushner provided critical support to Qatar’s neighbors. Led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a group of Middle Eastern countries, with Kushner’s backing, led a diplomatic assault that culminated in a blockade of Qatar. Kushner, according to reports at the time, subsequently undermined efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bring an end to the standoff.

That really doesn’t look good.

The Gulf crisis involving Qatar and its neighbors will likely be Kushner’s defining foreign policy legacy. The crisis followed a May visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by Kushner and President Donald Trump, who subsequently took credit for Saudi Arabia and its allies’ efforts against Qatar. The fallout has reshaped geopolitical alliances in the region, splitting the Gulf Cooperation Council and pushing Qatar, home to the Middle East’s largest U.S. military base, closer to Turkey and Iran.

It was a totally boneheaded move that hurt U.S. interests in the region, in other words. Of course, it’s possible this was more about Trump and Kushner just being ignorant and scammed by the Saudis, not …. oh, wait ...

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has asked witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real estate properties, focusing specifically on his discussions during the transition with individuals from Qatar and Turkey, as well as Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, according to witnesses who have been interviewed as part of the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 election.

As part of the scrutiny of Kushner’s discussions with Turks, federal investigators have reached out to Turkish nationals for information on Kushner through the FBI’s legal attache office in Ankara, according to two people familiar with the matter. Separately, Qatari government officials visiting the U.S. in late January and early February considered turning over to Mueller what they believe is evidence of efforts by their country’s Persian Gulf neighbors in coordination with Kushner to hurt their country, four people familiar with the matter said. The Qatari officials decided against cooperating with Mueller for now out of fear it would further strain the country’s relations with the White House, these people said.

Eric Levitz at New York magazines adds,

The office space that the Kushners retained is worth less than its $1.2 billion mortgage — which is due early in 2019. If their company can’t find some new scheme for refinancing and redeveloping the property by then, Kushner will have cost his family a fortune.

And Jared really doesn’t want that to happen. In the months between his father-in-law’s election and inauguration, Kushner divided his time between organizing the transition, and seeking capital from (suddenly quite interested) investors aligned with foreign governments: During that period, Kushner attempt to secure a $400 million loan from the Chinese insurance firm Anbang, and a $500 million one from former Qatari prime minister and billionaire investor Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, also known as “HBJ.” Anbang pulled out once the deal attracted critical media scrutiny, and HBJ jumped ship when the Kushners failed to find a second major source of capital.

In those same weeks, Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Kremlin-affiliated Vnesheconombank. The senior White House adviser has insisted that this meeting was strictly political; Gorkov maintains it was strictly business.

And here’s the even more juicy bit …

All of these interactions are currently being scrutinized by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

They have also, apparently, been studied by top government officials in the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico — all of whom have privately discussed strategies for exploiting Jared Kushner’s business interests for geopolitical gain, according to a report from the Washington Post on Wednesday.

And if America’s allies and adversaries are looking for further (circumstantial) evidence that U.S. foreign policy might be for sale, the New York Times provided some this week, when it revealed that Kushner’s family company had won $500 million in financing last year from a pair of American firms right after their top executives had White House meetings with one Jared Kushner.

But, wait, there’s more. Yesterday I wrote about a big loan Kushner got from a company called Apollo Global Management. Today, the Associated Press has an update:

The Securities and Exchange Commission late last year dropped its inquiry into a financial company that a month earlier had given White House adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate firm a $180 million loan.

While there’s no evidence that Kushner or any other Trump administration official had a role in the agency’s decision to drop the inquiry into Apollo Global Management, the timing has once again raised potential conflict-of-interest questions about Tru

“I suppose the best case for Kushner is that this looks absolutely terrible,” said Rob Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Without presuming that there is any kind of quid pro quo … there are a lot of ways that the fact of Apollo’s engagement with Kushner and the Kushner businesses in a public and private context might cast a shadow over what the SEC is doing and influence consciously or unconsciously how the agency acted.”

Or, more likely, we’re looking at an old-fashioned quid pro quo.

It’s been said of the Trump White House that it has reminded everyone why there are rules. But one of the saddest and most pathetic things I’ve read this week is in this paragraph:

Privately, some aides have expressed frustration that Mr. Kushner and his wife, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, have remained at the White House, despite Mr. Trump at times saying they never should have come to the White House and should leave. Yet aides also noted that Mr. Trump has told the couple that they should keep serving in their roles, even as he has privately asked Mr. Kelly for his help in moving them out.

Trump doesn’t have the guts to tell his daughter and son-in-law that maybe it’s time for them to go, so he’s making John Kelly be the bad guy?

See also ‘Jared has faded’: Inside the 28 days of tumult that left Kushner badly diminished in the Washington Post.

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  1. Stella  •  Mar 2, 2018 @6:10 pm

    Maha dear, you used to write about another republican can o' worms. 

    It's really great when you can forget them.  Once more into that blissful state. 

  2. Ten Bears  •  Mar 2, 2018 @6:11 pm

    Bush. We thought it couldn't get worse.

  3. Tom_b  •  Mar 2, 2018 @6:45 pm

    “Bush. We thought it couldn't get worse.”

    Forget Bush. Forget Nixon. This administration almost makes the Gipper look competent. They can’t even keep their lies consistent. From minute to minute!




  4. Swami  •  Mar 2, 2018 @10:00 pm

    Mr. Trump has told the couple that they should keep serving in their roles

    Yeah, considering their role is to get their asses out of debt by capitalizing on the prestige of the White House, and to craft an image of being highly successful entrepreneurs. 

     Maybe Trump feels some sense of responsibility to the young un's. He probably badgered them with unending tales of his financial exploits of using debt to build his own fortune. And when Ivanka kept needling Jared about not measuring up to her father's example of  being a successful entrepreneur he ended up biting off more than he could chew. Sorta like the knight in shining armor syndrome. I'm sure Jared really wanted to impress the in-laws with a show of his entrepreneurial prowess, but unless he's given enough time and a little boost from dad's connections he might not come to full bloom.

  5. bidrec  •  Mar 2, 2018 @11:31 pm

    Triple 6 Fifth–I used to pound this beat so I would like to give some context.  This was originally the Tishman Building.  Tishman's son-in-law bought Rockefeller Center from the Japanese among other accomplishments.  The building is immediately north of 650 Fifth which belonged to the Shah of Iran who was the landlord of Marc Rich who fled to Switzerland.  Marc Rich's space on the top of the tower was taken over by Ivan Boesky.  Marc Rich achieved a pardon from Clinton thanks to the efforts of Scooter Libby.  Ivan Boesky went to prison for two years for insider trading.  Southeast of this building is Olympic Tower where Jacqueline Onassis had an apartment.  The building was built by Aristotle Onassis.  Supposedly the apartment here of Adnan Kashoggi was so magnificent that Trump had to redo his own to save face.

    Immediately south of this is Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

    666 Fifth had a restaurant at the top called Top of the 6's and a deli in the basement called Bottom of the 6's.  It was reached by an escalator.

    David Susskind had his TV studio in this building.  Once, coming up from the Bottom of the 6's I saw a Mercedes Benz 600 surrounded by admirers.  Said David Susskind, "Do you like the car?"  When the answer was yes, he said, "It's mine."

    This might be described as an earlier "Tiffany location."  Carnival Cruise Line was a tenant.  I think the Kushners over paid for it.

  6. bidrec  •  Mar 2, 2018 @11:38 pm

    Because of the ownership by the Shah–the Pahlavi's–it was impossible to rent the retail space on the ground floor and basement.  It eventually went to Liz Claiborne after the Shah's death and 52nd Street for this the block was named Liz Claiborne Way. 

  7. maha  •  Mar 3, 2018 @5:06 pm

    bidrec I’m trying to visualize that building, but I can’t. I used to work in a building near Madison and 48th and would walk around on my lunch break, but that was a few years ago. Everything north of Saint Patrick’s is a blank now.

  8. Swami  •  Mar 3, 2018 @12:39 am

    I’m starting to think the Book of Revelations really is about the Trump Administration.

    The opening of the seven seals of judgment might be referring to Mueller's indictments. You might have to move some of the story line around and do some slight modifications in the details to make it work, but it works for me.

    It's kinda funny to think that Mueller has been given the key to the bottomless pit..

  9. Swami  •  Mar 3, 2018 @2:59 am

    Oh, and speaking about totally boneheaded moves…Remember that it was Kushner who was the intellect that pushed for the firing of Comey.

    Sometimes people don't take the time to fully consider the consequences of their actions. I've been there myself. No, really. Years and years ago I was dating a girl. As she was getting ready for our date I was waiting in her living room. On a coffee table in front of me there was a empty shoe box without a lid just sitting there. So in a mix of youthful curiosity and boredom I flipped the shoe box upside down and projected it over the edge of the coffee table about an inch and a half. I took a butane cigarette lighter (a bic) and held it under the opening and depressed the gas release without using the striker, allowing the the cavity formed by the upside down box to fill with butane gas. After about a minute I hit the striker expecting just a  little entertaining poof. To my surprise it exploded in my face, giving me a nice "warm" glow on my face with singed eyebrows and nasal hairs. Aside from the smell of burnt hair and the overwhelming feeling of complete stupidity because I didn't think correctly the rest of the evening went off fairly well.

     I did learn an important lesson though… Stop and think. If Jared had stopped and thought before he pushed to get rid of Comey he probably wouldn't in the situation he is today. Similar to my experience, if Jared hadn't hit the Comey striker the investigation might not have blown up in his face like it has.

  10. moonbat  •  Mar 3, 2018 @12:30 pm
  11. csm  •  Mar 3, 2018 @1:22 pm

    Corruption and greed is essentially the family business, but could "the kids" be any be more obvious?  "Javanka" lacks experience in government or administration.  The only purpose for these two in the white house is to enrich themselves.   

    Interesting though how, usually exposure like this tends to burnish or increase one's brand.  Ivanka and Jared have succeeded in diminishing themselves as spoiled rich kids, playing at business and now government.

  12. grannyeagle  •  Mar 3, 2018 @4:33 pm

    If the Trump administration is about Revelation, is the owner of the 666 Fifth Ave. building the Antichrist?  Just wondering.

  13. bidrec  •  Mar 4, 2018 @10:09 pm

    maha, if you walked around on your lunch break maybe you had lunch at a deli called Bottom of the Sixes.  It was reached from the south side of the building via an escalator.  It was in the basement.  650 Fifth also had basement space accessible via an escalator.

    My landlord–the Estate of Sol Goldman–his will was in probate–was at 640 Fifth.  South of that was a statue that my Jamaican supervisor referred to as Charles Atlas.  Sol Goldman has been given credit for claiming that the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location.

    The lobby of 666 Fifth Avenue had an undulating wave-like ceiling.  I do not know if that is true anymore.  The top floor had three sixes on it facing the south.

    The building to the right of Atlas was topped by the Anzac Garden.  If you worked in a high enough floor nearby you could look down on it.  The garden commemorated the Australian/New Zealand sacrifices in WW2.

    The building was not to my mind architecturally distinguished.  Olympic Tower was dark glass.  On a windy day inside it groaned.

    Where did you work?