An Update from The Kushner Swamp

FILE - In this July 25, 2017 file photo, White House Senior Adviser and envoy, Jared Kushner, listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the Cabine... FILE - In this July 25, 2017 file photo, White House Senior Adviser and envoy, Jared Kushner, listens at right as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. Kushner began a round of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as he resumed efforts to restart peace talks. Kushner, who is President Donald Trump's son-in-law, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, before heading to the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the evening. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) MORE LESS

One of the many oddities – perhaps fascinating side stories – to Trump is how the rise of his son-in-law Jared Kushner was almost designed in the lab for the most epic kinds of corruption. It has become a commonplace over the last year that Donald Trump’s second act as TV star and brand licensor since the early part of this century was heavily financed by Russian money. It’s a commonplace because it’s true. And in itself there’s nothing illegal about that or even wrong. But despite Trump’s need for foreign investment capital, because he had been and remains blackballed by all the big US banks, there’s never been any clear evidence that Trump was in acute and specific need for a big amount of capital around the time he ran for President.

That is not the case with his son-in-law. 

As has been widely reported, back in 2007, under Jared Kushner’s leadership, the family company vastly overpaid for a flagship real estate property at the perhaps appropriately numbered 666 5th Avenue. It’s a 41 story tower. It’s design apparently makes it one that few potential tenants want to rent in. It was a crazy investment at the peak of the boom. It became crazier after the bottom fell out in the 2008 crash. And the entire loan comes due in 18 months.

Basically the Kushner family owes hundreds of millions of dollars on this property that it really cannot hope to recoup by any business means. As this new article in Bloomberg explains, the plan – if you can call it that – seems to be to go even further into debt by demolishing the building, building a newer and better one and recouping the losses over the very long-term. As the Bloomberg piece understatedly and elegantly puts it, that means the money has to come from someone who isn’t interested in making a profit or maybe even holding on to their investment.

Short of outright corruption that might mean foreign money looking for a showpiece property in New York City or foreign money looking to get out of its unstable country of origin. Before the Trump campaign, Kushner was having a very hard time finding anyone who was interested – not surprisingly! That changed dramatically when he became top deputy to the President of the United States. Then everyone wanted to talk – including the head of the Russian state bank which makes ‘strategic’ investments for Vladimir Putin.

I had had a hard time figuring out why this hadn’t already been settled. For any number of foreign billionaires – or the states they work in concert with – taking a loss of a few hundred million dollars would be a great deal to be in that tight with the President’s family. The irony was that with Kushner’s new and totally unrivaled power came new and totally unrivaled scrutiny. Dirty or no-profit-seeking money doesn’t like scrutiny. One Chinese and another Gulf state concern were going to end Kushner’s troubles earlier in the year. But they got spooked when reporters started asking questions. It was almost unquestionably this money hunt that led Kushner to meet with that chief of a Russian owned state bank during the transition – a source of many of his current troubles.

What all of this amounts to is that while Kushner has been given oversight of numerous key foreign policy issues and problems, his ‘family’ is simultaneously in a desperate hunt for money which basically has to come from abroad – from a lot of the people he meets with in his White House job. It’s like having a Secretary of State desperate for help getting money from every foreign potentate he meets with. In fact, it’s not ‘like’ that. It sort of is that.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest Edblog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: