BAILEY T. STEEN | WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7, 2018
White House advisor Jared Kushner, once the serene golden boy of the ever-scandalous Trump administration, is drowning in trouble. The trusted son-in-law, wielding government power because of blatant nepotism rather than any real government experience, is a key voice in the direction of American policy foreign and domestic. It should come as no surprise that corruption is the overarching family affair for Trump policy — and a Trump™ by any other name still holds their fair share of conflicting interests.
Understandably, readers may be out of the loop on the many scandals of Jared Kushner, the goodie-two-shoes keeping the family afloat, and the sea of money on which they reside. That’s why we here at TrigTent decided to break down all of them in a somewhat digestible fashion — free from mainstream agendas behind The New York Times and The Washington Post, the toxic partisanship of Salon and Vox, without the lies by omitting evidence seen in The Daily Wire. The Trumps deserve their fair trial and the story of the swamp is already ugly before we’ve even began.
1. Qatar and 666 Fifth Avenue
To the inconvenience of the anti-Islamist Trump administration, the Clintons weren’t the only ones reaching their hands into the pockets of the world’s largest theocrats. According to a stunning new report from The Intercept, Kushner Companies, a real estate firm owned by Jared’s biological father Charles Kushner, were rallying Qatar’s minister of finance for investments in the company’s signature 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York City.
Speaking under the conditions of anonymity to two financial sources (who claim to be of both the Democratic and Republican party), citing risk to their jobs should their identities be revealed, The Intercept’s own Clayton Swisher and Ryan Grim were told of two 30-minute undisclosed meetings held between Kushner’s CEO father, Qatar Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi (who only attended one meeting) and envoys speaking on the minister’s behalf, reportedly held at the St. Regis Hotel and the Kushner offices around April 2017.
When asked for comment, White House Spokesperson Hope Hicks referred The Intercept to Kushner Companies’ own Christine Taylor who said:
“We don’t comment on who Charlie meets with.
We don’t do business with any sovereign funds.”
Their proposed investment deal, however, did not pan out. For obvious ethical reasons, such a tragic deal shouldn’t have an influential factor in the way the government conducts policy — but we know the Trumps will play any card given, evidenced in Ivanka’s imported clothes from slave-like labour factories, Don Jr.’s lavish dinners with India’s government officials (before he gives foreign policy speeches as a private citizen) and the Trump tax returns yet to be seen.
It was only a month after this deal that Jared Kushner backed the Saudi-lead Blockade of Qatar — which undermined the diplomatic efforts made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, holding the dominate opinion in Washington to ease tension in the Middle Eastern regions for some much needed diplomatic peace.
For Kushner, a man who has given press conferences calling for peace in the Middle East, to back an anti-diplomatic movement that distabalised relations between Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and poor little Qatar makes no sense — so long as we ignore the monetary incentives behind Kushner, of course. Otherwise, having some salty opinions towards the Islamists of Qatar makes perfect sense, in contrast to the eight businesses in Saudi Arabia registered by the president prior to his electoral victory in November 2016.
Which islamists are they going to back, I wonder? The friendly Saudis or the money draining members of Qatar? It’s not hard to see why this caught the attention of Justice Department special counsel Robert Muller, NBC News reporting on another meeting reportedly held at Trump Tower during the December 2016 presidential transition period — this time held between former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani (better referred to as HBJ) and Jared Kushner himself.
According to NBC’s sources, also speaking anonymously, HBJ was interested in the very same property on Fifth Avenue, taking of big investments as the building heads into $1.4 billion in debt by 2019 — the company obviously looking for their own socialism-for-the-rich bailout. Mueller has his eyes set on whether these talks expanded into their time in the White House, given HBJ decided on abandoning the Fifth Avenue property without a dime to spare, establishing motive on both counts and giving the sources some legitimacy.
This follows a report from The Washington Post who talked of officials in four countries — the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico — had been privately discussing how to use Jared Kushner’s real-estate investments as a way to gain leverage over him in order to influence official U.S. policy. This is incredibly problematic when Kushner isn’t fully divested from Kushner Companies and has a family blood connection to the whole operation.
2. Apollo Global and the Chicago Skyscraper
When The New York Times isn’t out and about selling counter-offensive wars with Iraq, rare pieces of quality journalism still persist — particular ones about the White House and their special visitors. The special someone in Kushner’s life, other than dear Ivanka, is Joshua Harris, one of the founders of Apollo Global Management. He just so happens to be an advisor for the Trump administration for how they should go forward on the trillion dollar infrastructure policy the president promised — seeing that it invites the private market into the mix, of course.
He, among other lenders, have had several meetings with Jared Kushner during and after the presidential campaign, journalists Jesse Drucker, Kate Kelly and Ben Protess reporting on the $509m loans taken out by Kushner. The most significant piece of conflicting interests is the $184m loan taken out for a Chicago skyscraper by the company — the midwest headquarters for AT&T — which came from other than… the private equity firm Apollo Global.
This loan has yet to be paid off, evidently, with Kushner’s hand delicately in his friend’s pocket. The Associated Press reported on a decision made by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to drop their investigation into Apollo Global Management late last year. While there’s no reports of Kushner nor the president having a hand in the decision, the idea they would drop this without any hint of scepticism regarding the facts show a normalised acceptance for the appearence of corruption going free, let alone if there’s more of a there there than we’ve seen before.
3. Citigroup Takes On Brooklyn
It’s bad enough Kushner has one private equity firm breathing down his neck, let alone business dealings tied to the wolf-pit company Citigroup. It was reported in The Guardian that, after his White House appointment, the company took out a loan of upwards of $509 million in loans, with $325 million going exclusively to a development in Brookyln with the involvement of loaned Apollo funds.
The Guardian also reached out Christine Taylor regarding meetings conducted in the White House between Kushner and Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, replying only with:
“Stories like these attempt to make insinuating connections that do not exist to disparage the financial institutions and companies involved.”
And like that, we saw the political equivalent of saying “How dare you, sir!”
4. Deutsche Bank and State Departments
It was Reuters who were first to report on the $285 million loan Deutsche bank granted to Kushner Companies — now under the watchful eye of banking regulators who smell something odd.
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) reportedly requested information from Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank and New York Community Bank on the lines of credits and loan guarantees relating to family members involved with the company. No persons involved opted to comment except for a representative from Signature, based in New York, who assured the outlet, with the permission of its client, that the Kushner family and company have used their services as far back as 2010.
Taylor, of course, played victim on the Kushners’ behalf saying:
“Prior to our CEO voluntarily resigning to serve our country, we never had any type of inquiries. These types of inquiries appear to be harassment solely for political reasons.”
5. China and the EB-5 Visas
Alternatively, The SEC have turned their efforts on investigating the Kushner ties between the company, the White House and their promotion of the federal investment-for-visa program (or EB-5 Visas) for Chinese investors, according to The Guardian.
Under the current EB-5 immigrant investor visa program policy, the intention is to increase American investment by allowing rich foreign investors have easier access to United States immigration. This, admittedly, isn’t the worst thing the world, but seem derived from a motivation of corruption.
The SEC are reportedly looking into the sales pitches conducted by Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared Kushner’s sister, delivered to a ballroom full of wealthy Chinese investors in Beijing and Shanghai, speaking not on the government’s behalf, but on behalf of the company seeking various investors public and private for the company’s New Jersey One Journal Square project. They reportedly used pictures of the president in their presentation to incentivise company investment, implying potential access to the most powerful man in the world and his family should they decide to play ball with the first family.
6. Russia, Russia, Russia
It’s not a discussion about corruption without red-baiting about the Russians in xenophobic glory — and Kushner may actually have dirt on him.
Critical of the ever-changing Russia hacking, Russia collusion and Russia interference narratives (which are three different things, mind you), critics of RussiaGate haven’t denied the possibility of money ties between your standard influence buying oligarchs and the Trump family — at least speaking for myself.
It is true that Jared Kushner attended the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., then-campaign chair Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer who claimed to have information on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton — and it’s true the meeting didn’t result in any key election information we know of.
Kushner even claims he texted his assistant saying:
“Can u pls call me on my cell?
Need excuse to get out of meeting.”
Not exactly the most riveting meeting, I imagine.
While Mueller’s indictment have a key provision saying no one in the Trump camp was knowingly involved in the Russian propaganda activity, with the most direct action of with the Russian shitposting accounts being an unknowing retweet, the media are pointing to Kushner considering he was working oversight of the Trump campaign’s digital efforts.
Jared Kushner also held a meeting with both the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and some unspecified Russian banker during the 2016 transition process. The Washington Post cite unnamed members of the intelligence community, who may have their own agenda for pushing Russia related stories, who said the Trump administration and Kislyak “discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin.”
This obviously raises the old saying of ‘if you have nothing to hide’, with this same response raising other questions of ‘why does the intelligence agency have to listen to conversations without a warrant, including on the president?’
According to everyone’s favourite media punching bag CNN, Kushner said the meeting was centred on keeping the lines of communication open regarding Syrian foreign policy —a fair request, in all honesty.
It was reported in Newsweek that General Mattis admitted to reporters at the Pentagon the US “no evidence” who caused the 2017 Sarin Gas Attack:
“We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used. We do not have evidence of it.
We’re looking for evidence of it, since clearly we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions.”
Syrian President Bashar Assad denies his government has used chemical weapons, and yet, almost overnight, at the request of the intelligence agencies, the Trump administration issued the bombing of a Syrian airstrip which was not Congressionally approved by a vote.
Perhaps Kushner has a point in wanting the separation of powers — establishing a line of privacy between the intelligence agencies, who have their own spying powers we’ve previously reported being inflicted on civilians, and the executive branch who have to decipher the enemies in and out of government.
Regardless, CNN reports Michael Flynn appears to have mentioned Kushner in his FBI plea agreement to cooperate with the special counsel, stating it was Kushner who instructed him to call several foreign government officials, including Ambassador Kislyak, requesting they block a UN BDS resolution to Israel’s settlement policies. Flynn admitted he lied to the FBI about what these calls were about, according to his plea agreement made with Mueller.
7. Kushner’s Security Clearance:
It’s concerning when Kushner, who had access to the country’s pressing array of top-secret information, was suddenly revoked of his status by the FBI without a clear, publicly available reason.
Last week, it was reported in The Guardian that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein placed a call to the White House resulting in John Kelly removing Kushner’s top security status. Why this is the case, we don’t know, but the FBI have been working over 13 months to conduct a background check on the president’s son-in-law — a full six months more than these kind of background checks usually take. Any one of the aforementioned reasons, from Russia to China, could be the reason for the delays in re-obtaining his key status among Washington’s swamp. His fate remains unknown, drowning in the sea of money that is keeping the family afloat. As said by Don Fox, the former acting director of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration:
“This is exactly why senior government officials, for as long back as I have any experience, don’t maintain any active outside business interests.
The appearance of conflicts of interest is simply too great.”
Thanks for reading!
Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, editor, artist and film critic based in Victoria, Australia, but is also Putin’s Puppet™ on occasion.
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