Jared Kushner’s Unparalleled Corruption

There’s probably no easier way to make money than to be a close relative of a high elected official. We don’t have to dig back that far for examples. Before he went into politics, George W. Bush dabbled in the oil business, and failed, but he kept failing upward because his daddy was President of the United States. The name “George Bush” was worth something on a letterhead, even if Bush himself wasn’t much to brag about. So the boy stumbled and failed upward into cushier positions and bigger money. “Whenever he’s struck a dry hole, someone has always been willing to fill it with money for him,” it says here. He’s remembered by one executive who gave him a high-level position that he added “no value” to the company but was good for telling dirty jokes at board meetings.

I wrote about Hunter Biden and his Ukraine job back in 2019, before the infamous “I would like you to do us a favor” phone call between Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky. And before Hunter Biden’s laptop became the Great White Whale of right-wing politics. Like George W. Bush before him, Hunter Biden was paid outrageous amounts of money so that the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma could put the name “Biden” on its letterhead. What Hunter actually did in the job, I do not know.

At one point, you might remember, the job of Vice President Joe Biden and Hunter Biden’s Burisma gig came within a degree of separation. The European Union and the United States came to the conclusion that Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, was corrupt and needed to go. Vice President Biden was sent to Ukraine to deliver the message “that the West wanted Shokin gone or else loan guarantees would be held up, and Shokin was, in turn, fired,” it says here.

“But Shokin, of course, didn’t want to go down on the theory that he was corrupt or incompetent,” the Vox article continues. “So he started offering another theory: he was fired for going after Burisma by Joe Biden operating on behalf of Hunter Biden.” Whether firing Shokin made any difference to Burisma isn’t clear; stories conflict. But this is how Hunter Biden got on Trump’s radar, and how the name “Hunter Biden” became fixed in right-wing mythology, right up there with “Hillary Clinton” and “George Soros.” Merely to say a name is to evoke unspeakable evil; no evidence or even a coherent story of what the evil is need be given.

But now we get to Jared Kushner and the $2 billion payment from Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman that I mentioned in the last post.

Kushner is a guy so good at failing up he makes George W. Bush look like an amateur. I have looked at Kushner’s career and have yet to find an example of him not screwing up, even when he made money. He turned the once-hip New York Observer into an advertising circular for the Upper East Side, for example. (See also I worked for Jared Kushner. He’s the wrong businessman to reinvent government.) He nearly destroyed the family real estate business by sinking $1.8 billion into the purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue, the Titanic of white elephants, right before the 2008 financial sector meltdown. There is copious evidence that U.S. foreign policy was manipulated to put pressure on Qatar investors to bail out Kushner and take the building off his hands.

In the Trump Administration, he was given a huge portfolio of tasks, of which he accomplished nothing measurable that I can see. The Middle East peace plan? Seriously? The archive of articles about how Jared screwed up the covid response could fill libraries. See, for example, How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air” in Vanity Fair. Jared’s efforts to obtain ventilators and other covid medical supplies in 2020 were a master class in incompetence, if not worse. See, for example, How Kushner’s Volunteer Force Led a Fumbling Hunt for Medical Supplies. I still think Jared and other Trumps were engaged in profiteering when people’s lives were on the line.

So Jared is, basically, a walking screw-up who has never had to face the consequences of his own incompetence. In that, he’s a lot like his father in law.

No reasonable person expects Jared’s new private equity firm to be a roaring success. MBS’s financial advisers thought Kushner’s firm to be a joke. Some of the $2 billion is being held until Kushner hires a “qualified investment team,” which apparently Kushner hadn’t thought of before asking for investments. And by all accounts the Saudi investment is about all the money Jared’s start-up can boast. But MBS must think the money is a good investment. Especially when there’s a chance Donald will be elected to another term. See:

Ryan Bort, Rolling Stone, Gee, Wonder Why Mohammed Bin Salman Personally Intervened to Give Jared Kushner $2 Billion

Steve Benen, MSNBC, Why Jared Kushner’s Saudi Arabian money is impossible to defend

Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer, Did Jared Kushner just get a $2 billion bribe?

Philip Bump, Washington Post, You say a president’s relative is part of iffy international deals?

As unfair as it might be, there is nothing illegal about a company giving a big job to the unqualified child of a president or vice president, just so a name will be associated with the company. On its face there’s nothing illegal about Mohammed bin Salman giving Jared Kushner’s firm $2 billion. But I really don’t want to hear another word about the damn laptop. The Right won’t shut up about it, of course. They are certain that, somehow, some terrible thing will be found on it that will snag President Biden as well. It hasn’t been found yet, even though the contents of the laptop have been meddled with by many right-wing hands already. But it must be there. Meanwhile, MSB’s $2 billion are not a problem. Right.

See: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/09/jared-kushner-let-the-markets-decide-covid-19-fate

4 thoughts on “Jared Kushner’s Unparalleled Corruption

  1. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I said in my book that Congress needs to prohibit this kind of profiteering by the POTUS, members of Congress, and the USSC by monitoring the financing of members, ex-members (for a decade), and their immediate family The standard would prohibit financial transactions that have the appearance of impropriety! Or less elegantly, a smell test. 

    Under the USSC rulings that exist, almost everything short of quid pro quo bribery is OK. After they leave office is when many members of Congress really cash in. Special interests can give unlimited money to a candidate's super-PAC but expenditures are monitored and people go to jail for misuse of campaign funds. How does a Senator collect millions personally from those clients who donated so generously to the campaign(s)?   (Hint: Usually, it happens AFTER they leave office.)

    It can be a job for a family member or for the ex-member directly. Or a million dollars for a speech to a special interest group. It may be the sale or purchase of property way above or below its market value. It could be an outright gift. If reporting all income, including gifts, was required carrying criminal penalties for omission or distortion, we could drive the vermin of both parties out of government because DC would be the last place in the US you would go to get rich. 

    The first step is problem definition – Maha took us in that direction. The second step is drawing up a solution. I don't suggest that my ideas are the only ones that could work but when you look at Jarad and Hunter, the nature of the abuses defines the shape of the solution for immediate family anyhow. 

    How to implement is a different issue and I went there, but I won't now. Figuring out what's broke is first – figuring out what has to be changed is second. Then, you worry about how.

  2. To be fair to Jared, the $2 Billion that the Clown Prince of Saudi Arabia gave him to lose is not all going into Jared's pockets.  His 'management fee' is 1.25% which is ONLY $25 Million a year.  Payment for services rendered as well as potential future services.

    Steve Munchkin is only getting $1 Billion with a 1% management fee and he is very experienced in money laundering so there is a chance the Saudis will make money thru him.  

  3. With power comes the constant bids to peddle your influence.  You become a NFT, a non-fungible token if you will, an algorithm of value for those who would like to own at least a piece of you.  The concept is abstract for sure so it is very difficult to regulate.  It is even more difficult to regulate when for one political party it is their stock in trade.  Now this party is the home of what many consider to be a crime family or at least a family who's mode of operation is transactional.  A family that is above the law due to its mastery of using and abusing the legal process and its status in faux religions based on the gospel of greed. They attack the press, the weakened fourth estate, which is really the only power that keeps them in check.  Other efforts to control or regulate tend to become more a game of Wack a Mole than a serious effort.  

    This is, in brief, the problem we face as a country as our economy becomes more global.  Both foreign and domestic interests vie for control of the power structure, many of which have no interest or even evil intent toward the citizens of this country.  Many of these interests divide our citizens and promote policy that is not in the best interests of the majority by way of the democratic process.  That is why we must demand public office holders that are not corrupt, not sold out, not stooges for foreign or nefarious domestic agents, who act as true representatives of all citizens.  That would not be those who resemble Dr. Oz, a crime family, or others with questionable ethical standards in general. Ethical standards in general is not a radical stand on a single ethical issue. Those who flaunt single ethical issues, IMO, do so to cover for their general lack of ethics in many other matters only one of which is influence peddling.  

  4. Example of runaway inflation for rewarding political hacks for selling out the country.

    Addled Ronnie and perjurer poppa only got a $1 million a speech from Japenese after they crippled US economy to favor "trade" partners. (Remember Sununu's comment that there was no difference between potato chip and computer chip when looking at gross trade values) 

    Now it costs $2 Billion to pay off.

    And he didn't even have to give a speech.


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