Jared Kushner needs $1 BILLION (with a “B”), needs it fast, doesn’t care where he gets it

Jared Kushner and other members of his family real estate firm have twice been caught using Kushner’s closeness with Trump as a means of peddling $500,000 deals that come with an inside track to a US visa.

Now Bloomberg has made it clear why Kushner was willing to risk running afoul of regulators. He really needs the cash.

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, wakes up each morning to a growing problem that will not go away. His family’s real estate business, Kushner Cos., owes hundreds of millions of dollars on a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue. It has failed to secure foreign investors, despite an extensive search, and its resources are more limited than generally understood.

In fact, Kushner’s financial situation is so precarious, that it might be driving more than just his efforts to sell Chinese investors on his ability to get Trump’s attention.

The mortgage on their tower is due in 18 months. This has led to concerns that Kushner could use—or has perhaps already used—his official position to prop up the family business despite having divested to close relatives his ownership in many projects to conform with government ethics requirements.

Like Donald Trump, it’s hard to determine just how much Jared Kushner is really worth. But the speed with which he’s been burning through other resources, and the desperation to make a deal with foreign investors, suggests that Kushner is in a very tight spot. Because the depth of the hole his company dug to buy this white elephant of a building is staggering.

It was 2006—the height of the real-estate market boom—when Kushner Cos. agreed to buy 666 Fifth Avenue for $1.8 billion, then a record for a Manhattan building. All of it was borrowed except for $50 million. The company still holds half of a $1.2 billion mortgage, on which it hasn’t paid a cent. The full amount is due in February 2019.

Kushner bought at the market peak, and hasn’t managed to either unload the building or secure additional partners. Instead, supporting 666 5th is causing the family to run through their remaining assets.

The family, once one of the largest landlords on the East Coast, sold thousands of apartments to finance its purchase of the tower in 2007 and has borrowed extensively for other purchases. They are walking away from a Brooklyn hotel once considered central to their plans for an office hub. From other properties, they are extracting cash, including tens of millions in borrowed funds from the recently acquired former New York Times building. What’s more, their partner in the Fifth Avenue building, Vornado Realty Trust, headed by Steve Roth, has stood aside, allowing the Kushners to pursue financing on their own.

And while it may seem that Kushner has billions in other real estate holdings, the truth is that many of these sites are little more than the kind of naming deals that his father-in-law often arranges.

One Brooklyn development site purchased in 2014 for about $75 million and heralded by the real estate press as “Jared Kushner’s big Gowanus project”—so-named for the canal it abuts—is in fact barely owned by the Kushners at all. SL Green Realty Corp., their partner in the endeavor, owns 95 percent of it, according to a regulatory filing. The remaining 5 percent is split between the Kushners, and LIVWRK, another developer.

The Kushner Group has already bailed from other deals and sold its remaining ownership in some buildings. But none of it seems enough to plug the hole at the center of the operation.

While Kushner, like Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, is dismissive of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with representatives of the Russian government, Trump’s son-in-law may have had a simpler reason to talk with the Russian representatives than the American adoption of Russian orphans that Trump offered as an excuse for the meeting. That reason is called “money.”

Federal investigators are examining Kushner’s finances and business dealings, along with those of other Trump associates, as they probe possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Kushner has already testified twice before closed congressional committees and denies mixing family business with his official role.

After all, the June meeting was the only time Kusher had a chat with Russian representatives.

Federal investigators know that Kushner met with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in Trump Tower last December and later met with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Kremlin-controlled VEB bank in two meetings that he didn’t, at first, disclose publicly or on his application for his national-security clearance.

Representatives of VEB bank indicated that Kushner wasn’t in these meetings to secure a political deal for Donald Trump. They say he was there in an effort to secure a deal for his own real estate firm. And for once, that may be true.

Trump’s tax returns may come to light

Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and President Donald Trump veered into the world of taxes, a new report reveals.

According to The Daily Beast, Mueller has recruited the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations unit in the Russia probe. The report went on to claim that the special counsel chose the CI unit because the FBI lacked the specialized “expertise” for the case.

“The FBI’s expertise is spread out over so many statutes—and particularly since 9/11, where they really focused on counterintelligence and counterterror—that they simply don’t have the financial investigative expertise that the CI agents have,” Martin Sheil, a retired CI agent, told the Beast. “When CI brings a case to a U.S. Attorney, it is done. It’s wrapped up with a ribbon and a bow. It’s just comprehensive.”

Recruiting the CI may also help finally bring the president’s tax returns to light as well.

Undisciplined, petulant, complaining 71-year-old child complains about discipline

So-called “President” Donald Trump is growing increasingly bored with spending days this week monitoring the situation in the Gulf of Mexico. He wants things to go back to the exciting life of speeches with swarms of upset staffers standing behind him.

“Trump appears to pine for the days when the Oval Office was a bustling hub of visitors and gossip, over which he presided as impresario,” The Washington Post revealed reported Thursday. “He fumes that he does not get the credit he thinks he deserves from the media, nor the allegiance from fellow Republican leaders he is owed. He boasts about his presidency in superlatives, but confidantes privately fret about his suddenly dark moods.”

But the biggest fear of Trump’s friends is that he’s on a “collision course” with Gen. John Kelly. Since Kelly took over as the White House chief of staff, he’s instituted some military-style discipline that prevents Trump from talking to whoever he wants. Close friends were once able to call the White House and ask for Trump personally. Now they’re sent to Kelly’s office to be vetted. Trump’s friends are even calling Kelly “the church lady” because of his strict ways.

It’s cramping Trump’s spontaneous style, which is actually good for his credibility among Republicans.

“He’s having a very hard time,” one friend told The Post after speaking to the president this week. “He doesn’t like the way the media’s handling him. He doesn’t like how Kelly’s handling him. He’s turning on people that are very close to him.”

 Sometimes, the president goes against Kelly or resents him simply because he hates the new system. “He has been especially sensitive to the way Kelly’s rigid structure is portrayed in the media,” The Post said.

Former Trump advisor, Roger Stone, explained it’s all part of who Trump is.

“Donald Trump resists being handled,” said Stone. “Nobody tells him who to see, who to listen to, what to read, what he can say.”

Stone went on to say that Trump is a “free spirit” and needs to be able to do whatever. Kelly treats Trump like a mushroom, who believes in the dark, according to Stone.

 During his visit to Arizona, Trump learned border patrol agents that supported him weren’t allowed to be present for his tour. Sources say that Trump raised his voice at Kelly for the decision.

Aides claim Trump has nothing but praise for Kelly’s medals and credentials. Privately, Trump is “simmering with displeasure” over National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn because he knocked the president’s response to Charlottesville.

Trump has also furious about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who disagreed with the president on Qatar, Cuba and Afghanistan. Rumors have swirled that Tillerson might even be ready to quit himself.

Trump says he witnessed destruction “first-hand” . . . no, he did not, he lies as easily as the rest of us breathe

The man cannot help himself.   Trump tweeted today a claim that he “witnessed firsthand” the destruction of Hurricane Harvey.

The problem: As many, many, many reporters and other eyewitnesses can attest, Donald Trump was nowhere near the “damage” of Hurricane Harvey. He went to Austin and to Corpus Christi. He met with the Texas governor, and he was briefed at a Corpus Christi firehouse. He was in Texas for a total of about three hours.

That’s probably for the best; nobody wants their high-water rescue delayed because the Secret Service needs to commandeer thirty or so flat-bottomed boats for some sightseein’. But Trump could have just said nothing—Trump could always, in these situations, just say nothing—and instead he had to lie to America because it’s some sort of nervous tic. Wake up, brush your teeth, pointlessly lie about something every fact checker or news watcher in America knows is false, repeat.

The next step, inevitably, is White House Press Secretary redefining the entire English language rather than admitting the petulant child in the Oval Office was once again being dishonest.

“He met with a number of state and local officials who are eating, sleeping, breathing the Harvey disaster,” [Sarah Huckabee Sanders] told reporters.She added that Trump talked “extensively” with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

“Who certainly is right in the midst of every bit of this, as well as the mayors from several of the local towns that were hit hardest,” she said.

“And detailed briefing information throughout the day yesterday talking to a lot of the people on the ground — that certainly is a firsthand account.”

By that logic, you could also claim that Donald Trump Has Been To The Moon.

 

Trump pledges to donate $1 million in Harvey aid . . . however . . .

According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump is pledging $1 million dollars for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts—exactly $4 million dollars less than when he offered Barack Obama $5 million for his birth certificate in 2012.

$1 million to help people wiped out by Hurricane Harvey.  $5 million to find Obama’s birth certificate.  Something is out of wack here.

Meanwhile . . . White House press secretary Sarah Hickabee said Trump told her he would donate “$1 million in personal funds.”  She refused to answer a reporter’s question about the source of the money — Trump’s own account, or, his “foundation,” which is filled with money from other people.

For myself, I’ll believe it when I see the receipt and the cancelled check.

Burning chemical plant near Houston successfully lobbied Trump to relax safety rules

Arkema, the company that owns the chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, that suffered at least two separate explosions on Thursday, successfully lobbied the Trump administration to delay new safety rules for chemical plants that were due to take effect this year.

The International Business Times reports that Obama-era regulations of chemical plants that were supposed to take effect this past March 14 “were halted by the Trump administration after a furious lobbying campaign by plant owner Arkema and its affiliated trade association, the American Chemistry Council, which represents a chemical industry that has poured tens of millions of dollars into federal elections.”

In killing the new rules, the industry had the help of several Texas Republican lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn, Rep. Joe Barton, Rep. Pete Olson, Rep. Pete Sessions and Rep. Kevin Brady. Democratic Texas Rep. Gene Green also lobbied to have the new regulations killed.

Arkema directly objected to the new proposed rules in a letter it sent to the EPA this past May, in which it said the rules “will likely add significant new costs and burdens to the corporate audit process.”

According to the International Business Times, Arkema specifically took issue with new “Safer Technology and Alternatives Analysis” (STAA) rules that would have, among other things, encouraged companies to “simplify covered processes in order to make accidental releases less likely or the impacts of such releases less severe.”

Read the whole analysis at this link.

Mueller is playing chess, Trump is playing Donkey Kong

Panelists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” agreed that special counsel Robert Mueller was conducting a strategically brilliant game of chess against President Donald Trump, the target of his investigation — who wasn’t even playing the same game.

The special counsel has reportedly been cooperating with New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, which could ensnare former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in a pardon-proof trap, because presidential pardons don’t cover state crimes.

“Paul Manafort is clearly becoming very much in the crosshairs of this probe, both with his own dealings with foreign governments, his time working a pro-Russian party in the Ukraine, but also now, as suggested, the idea that he could be leaned upon here,” said Jonathan Lemire, White House correspondent for the Associated Press. “This is going to happen in a state jurisdiction, (so) the president can’t pardon you.”

He said the president’s unusual pardon last week of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio signaled that he was willing to flout conventions for issuing pardons, but the involvement of Schneiderman — who has a long history with Trump — took away that powerful option.

Trump pardons Arpaio and Mueller hits — it’s like they’re paying chess,” said BBC anchor Katty Kay, “and it’s check again. Mueller hits back, okay, we’ll go to the state level and this is where you can’t pardon them. The way that Mueller is handling this is strategically brilliant. He’s keeping the investigation going but he’s giving signals to Trump he’s not going to be messed with.”

Historian Jon Meacham, executive editor at Random House and contributing editor for Time, said Trump was vastly outmatched against Mueller.

“I think Mueller is playing chess and Trump is playing Donkey Kong,” Meacham said.

The noose is tightening on the Trump Crime Family

While Houston drowns and North Korea provokes, the case for the impeachment of President Trump is growing stronger. The news of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction and Kim Jong Un’s latest missile test has obscured a series of unrebutted revelations that strengthen the already sturdy case that the president has obstructed the FBI investigation into the ties between his campaign and the Russian government.

The revelations shed new light on both the chummy ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and on Trump’s recent efforts to hinder the investigation of special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Not only did Trump’s business associates appeal to Russian officials in late 2015 and early 2016 for help in building a Trump Tower in Moscow, but Trump also personally called Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in early August to denounce his legislation to protect Mueller from being fired.

In a July 20 interview with the New York Times, Trump said any investigation of his family business in connection with the Russia investigation would be a “violation” of Mueller’s responsibilities and grounds for his dismissal. Mueller, it is now clear, has called Trump’s bluff. He is delving deeply into Trump’s real estate dealings and how they relate to Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election.

So are congressional investigators. The Times reported Monday that the Trump Organization turned over emails related to the proposed Trump Tower deal to the House Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election.

‘Someone who knows how to deal’

The Post reported that Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s closest business advisers, asked longtime Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov for help in “the development of a Trump Tower-Moscow project in Moscow City.”

“As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance,” Cohen wrote. “I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals.”

Cohen’s email, the Post noted, “marks the most direct outreach documented by a top Trump aide to a similarly senior member of Putin’s government.” The deal never came to fruition.

Cohen said in a statement to Congress that he wrote the email at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal. The Times reported that Sater had boasted the deal could help elect Trump, which may have been the sort of hype that routinely lubricates real estate deals.

But Sater’s email to Cohen, published by the Times, voiced hope for a relationship that would go beyond real estate.

“Michael we can own this story,” Sater wrote. “Donald doesn’t stare down, he negotiates and understands the economic issues and Putin only want to deal with a pragmatic leader, and a successful businessman is a good candidate for someone who knows how to negotiate. ‘Business, politics, whatever it all is the same for someone who knows how to deal’…”

Mueller’s strategy

The question of how Trump sought to deal with Russia is at the heart of Mueller’s investigation.
The proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow was just another manifestation of Trump’s long-standing desire to build in Russia. In 2013, he signed a preliminary agreement to build a hotel in Russia in partnership with Aras Agalarov, a billionaire who had financed the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013.

A representative of Agalarov’s company attended a June 2016 meeting with top Trump aides and a Russian lawyer organized by Donald Trump Jr. The lawyer offered to provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton collected by the Russian government. The meeting was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” according to an email made public by Don Jr.

Six days later, a person identifying himself as “Guccifer 2.0” released a Democratic National Committee file on Trump, stolen from the DNC computers. It was the first in a flood of leaks harmful to Clinton that would continue for the rest of the campaign.
According to an NBC News report Monday, Mueller’s team of prosecutors are focusing on Trump’s role in drafting a public statement claiming the subject of the meeting was the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans.

A source “familiar with Mueller’s strategy” told NBC that whether or not Trump made a “knowingly false statement” is now of interest to prosecutors.

“Even if Trump is not charged with a crime as a result of the statement, it could be useful to Mueller’s team to show Trump’s conduct to a jury that may be considering other charges.”

The revelations show the president and the independent counsel are on a collision course that can only end in a constitutional crisis and impeachment proceedings.

The threat to bring Trump’s conduct to a jury is a threat to Trump’s family and his presidency. Trump’s pardon of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of contempt of court for disobeying a court order to cease the profiling of Latinos, shows he believes his political whims take precedence over the workings of the law.

Trump has spoken privately about firing Mueller, only to be talked out of it by aides. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said Mueller’s dismissal would be a “tipping point” for Senate Republicans. Sen. Lindsey Graham has said firing Mueller would be “the beginning of the end” of the Trump presidency.

The tipping point is drawing closer.