Friday, May 26, 2017

Politico: Meet the Real Jared Kushner

A viper behind a pretty face?
Now that it is known that he is a person of interest in the Russiagate investigation, I suspect that we will be learning much more about presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.  Based on a piece in Politico's magazine section, what we are likely to learn is not going to be good or flattering. Seemingly,  in the opinion of the article's author, beneath the polite veneer he works to maintain, Kushner is far more like his thuggish father-in-law and only too willing to play dirty and engage in underhanded conduct.  One would have thought that Kushner would have realized the truth would come out at some point.  His ties to Russiagate will likely accelerate that process and his reputation in society circles could well take a hit.  Here are brief highlights from a very long article:
He was supposed to be the calm one, cool and unflappable under his Ray-Bans and beltless blue bespoke suits. If Steve Bannon was the Rumpelstiltskin of the administration, donning multiple half-tucked dress shirts at a time and always carrying a clutch of briefing papers and barreling through the administrative state, Jared Kushner, through pedigree and temperament, could reach out one of his long, elegant fingers and tap everyone in the West Wing on the shoulder and urge them to just cool out a bit. In a White House sullied by ties to Russia and all sorts of unsavory characters from the fringe, Kushner was set to float above, surrounding himself with fellow figures from the elite worlds of Manhattan finance and real estate and deep-sixing the harder-edged ideas of the White House’s “nationalist” wing.
Except that this isn’t quite how it has gone in the White House over the last several months. It was Kushner who reportedly pushed for the firing of FBI Director James Comey over the objections of Bannon. And it was Kushner who was the lone voice urging for a counterattack after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment of a special prosecutor, according to the New York Times. And it is now Kushner whose family’s business activities leave him open to the same level of charges of conflict of interest that have dogged his wife and father-in-law, and Kushner who appears to be as closely tied to the Russian government as anyone serving in the White House: NBC News and the Washington Post reported Thursday that the FBI is taking a close look at his contacts with the Russians.
The widespread assumption liberals make about Kushner seems to be this: Because he is soft-spoken, slim and handsome, with degrees from Harvard and NYU and a family that donates to Democrats, he couldn’t possibly be the same guy knifing his West Wing rivals and urging the president to go to war with the Justice Department and the FBI But that assumption is wrong. . . . . those who know him from his days as a young New York real estate magnate and newspaper publisher say that America is just getting to know the Jared Kushner they have always known. . .
By all accounts, Jared was deeply affected by his father’s prison sentence [for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering], and visited him weekly.
And so in an effort to rehabilitate the family name, Kushner focused the family business on Manhattan and purchased the New York Observer, a pink-paged society weekly that made up in influence among the social and literary elite what it lacked in circulation or profitability (full disclosure: I worked as a political reporter there from 2010-2012). But the paper soon expanded into coverage of Kushner’s home turf of commercial real estate, and people in that world saw the paper’s editorial resources devoted to pushing Kushner’s agenda or settling his scores.
“The Observer became his mouthpiece in the world of New York City real estate,” said one prominent real estate broker who asked to remain anonymous because “like everybody else in New York and New Jersey real estate I realize there is no upside to talking about Jared Kushner or Donald Trump.”
[T]he anger toward him among former Observer employees runs deep. . . . . Just before the election, Kahlon described her former boss on Facebook thusly: “We’re talking about a guy who isn’t particularly bright or hard-working, doesn’t actually know anything, has bought his way into everything ever (with money he got from his criminal father), who is deeply insecure and obsessed with fame (you don’t buy the NYO, marry Ivanka Trump, or constantly talk about the phone calls you get from celebrities if it’s in your nature to ‘shun the spotlight’), and who is basically a shithead.”
Meanwhile, damaging stories keep landing as journalists dig into the Kushner real estate empire, which is said to have taken part in at least $7 billion worth of acquisitions over the past decade and, according to Forbes, to have a worth close to $1 billion. A recent investigation by ProPublica revealed that Kushner Companies have bought thousands of distressed apartment complexes in Rust Belt cities in recent years, hardly the stuff of Manhattan dreams. A subsidiary that manages the complexes has been ruthless in pushing out those who didn’t pay their rent, ProPublica reported, hitting them with steep late fees and even going after them in court.
Alec MacGillis, who reported the story, found that few of the “Kushnerville” residents he met knew their money was going to a company owned by the son in law of President Trump. That Jared Kushner?” one exclaimed. “Oh, my God. And I thought he was the good one.”
Read the whole piece.

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