Jared Kushner and his father-in-law, President Donald J. Trump, have more connecting them than Ivanka Trump.
On April 19 last year, Donald J. Trump was taking a victory lap after winning the Republican Party nomination. In his speech, he mentioned by name a number of bold-named businessmen who were there to hear him crow. Carl Icahn, Howard Lorber and Steven Roth, the CEO of Vornado Trust.
“The great Steven Roth,” Trump extolled. “Steve’s building a big building on Central Park South, it’s a tremendous success.”
“I said, ‘Steve, congratulations on the building,'” The newly-minted Republican presidential nominee said.
“He said, ‘Donald, it’s nothing compared to what’s happening with you.’ Is that right? My man!”
Trump and Roth have been friends (and sometimes business foes) for over 30 years. They jointly own the 1290 Sixth Avenue office tower. Trump and Roth became business partners after Trump threatened to sue his former partners for trying to sell it to another party without his permission. 1290 Sixth Avenue became the second largest in Vornado’s portfolio but by no means the only marquee property in Roth’s sprawling Manhattan empire.
One other is 666 Fifth Avenue, which Roth’s Vornado Trust co-owns with Jared Kushner’s family. Jared made news in Manhattan’s real estate circles when he purchased the trophy building for $1.8 billion, using mostly borrowed money. By all accounts, Kushner overpaid for the building by paying twice as much per-square-foot than any other Manhattan building sale before it, according to the New York Post. Tellingly, the deal closed on Jared’s 26th birthday, Jan. 10, 2007.
It was an expensive birthday gift by any measure but for the young real estate scion it represented a giant statement to Manhattan. Two years earlier, his father, Charles Kushner, was imprisoned for 14 months after pleading guilty for tax evasion charges and for making illegal campaign contributions. Before exiting prison, Charles turned over his holdings to his eldest son to manage a business free of an ex-convict CEO. Jared was just 25. If his father’s prison sentence wasn’t enough for the young heir to handle, the circumstances that led to it, tore the Kushner clan apart.
Before being charged in 2005, Charles Kushner heard his brother-in-law was talking to investigators about his misdeeds. To gain leverage over him, Kushner paid a “very attractive, high-end call girl $10,000 to lure his brother-in-law to a Bridgewater, NJ, motel after she pretended to need a ride when her car broke down,” according to the Post. Jared’s father had the whole motel encounter taped and sent it to his sister, Esther. She turned the tape into the feds. Classic kompromat.
Now it seems, Kushner family history could be repeating itself. Investigators want to know if Jared has kompromat all of his own. Only this time, the disparaging evidence is financial in nature and it’s the Russians who could be holding it over him.
666 Fifth Avenue, The trophy building Jared bought for $1.8 Bn in 2007 has proved to be a financial noose around him and the family. By 2008, the building was generating just 70 cents on every dollar it owed. Under pressure, Jared was forced to sell the pricey store space for $525 million to a partnership in 2008 and a 49 percent stake in the office portion to Stephen Ross’ Vornado in 2011. Yes, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump share more than wife and daughter, they share a business partner. A $1.2 Bn mortgage on Jared’s trophy building is due in just two years which unpaid, could destroy the family fortune.
Congressional investigators and the FBI are now probing a secret meeting Jared had with Vladimir Putin’s banker at Trump Tower in New York in December last year. The White House and the Russian bank have offered conflicting explanations for the meeting between Kushner and Sergei Gorkov.
The White House claims Kushner’s meeting with Gorkov was in his capacity as the Trump transition team’s “official primary point of contact with foreign governments” and had nothing to do with his family business, CNN reports. Gorkov’s bank, VEB, insists the meeting with Kushner was in his capacity as the head of his family’s real estate company. A complete contradiction of the White House story.
“It’s very peculiar that of all the people he could be talking to in a transition period where you’ve got lots of balls in the air, that you end up talking to a Russian banker who is under sanction and who is related to Putin and has a KGB background,” Rep. Jackie Speier, (D-CA)“I think the question has to be asked, was this about you trying to get financing for your troubled real estate that you have in New York City?” posits Speier, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
There’s something else about Sergey Gorkov and Putin’s bank, VEB. It has ties to President Donald Trump. The bank paid Alexander Schnaider, a Russian-Canadian property developer, $850M for his shares in a Ukrainian gas company. Schnaider poured the cash into building the Trump Hotel and Tower in Toronto, according to the Wall Street journal. Trump doesn’t own the property, but he profits from licensing his name to the venture and he may receive management fees.
So Jared Kushner and his father-in-law share a business partner and a bank with Russian and KGB ties, in addition to being family members. Trump says he has “absolutely confidence” in his son-in-law, despite the investigation but insiders say Kushner is on “delicate ground”.
Jared Kushner was, at the very least, supportive of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The Bureau has been looking into Kushner’s meeting with Gorkov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. These could bear perjury and espionage charges for false statements and a bizarre request to open a secret “backchannel” with the Kremlin. If it turns out Kushner was aware of the investigation when he threw his weight behind Comey’s firing, then Jared could also now be the target of an obstruction of justice investigation.