Man in the Middle: Jared Kushner
Boy Plunder remains an enigma...and a grave national security threat.
ON JULY 21, 2017, in a piece provocatively titled “Compromised: Is Jared Kushner Working for Vladimir Putin,” I offered these thoughts on Donald John Trump’s son-in-law and most important advisor:
It’s tempting to regard Jared Kushner as a little twerp, an undeserving nebbish who somehow gets to boink Ivanka and also run the country. Certainly the idea that this guy can bring peace to the Middle East and also end the U.S. opioid crisis is ridiculous. But what if Trump had good reason to give him the heavy lifting? What if Jared Kushner is far and away the most competent person in the White House? What if he can actually get shit done? And what if he’s working for the Russians?
Most of the attention on “RussiaGate” has focused on Trump, and rightly so. Trump’s Russia ties are as long as the ones around his neck, and fishy as all get out. The President is so loud, and demands so much of the spotlight, that an unassuming eminence grise like Kushner can operate in the shadows with impunity. This is troubling, because we have no clue where his allegiances lie. For all we know, Jared Kushner is the greatest threat to national security since Julius & Ethel Rosenberg. Certainly he should be viewed as such until we know for sure.
As with most of my early attempts at news analysis, I got some things right in that piece, and plenty wrong. While Jared Kushner was happy to work with the Russians when his interests and theirs were aligned, I do not believe he was working for Vladimir Putin. Boy Plunder, it seems to me, operates exclusively out of self-interest. He spent his time in the West Wing 1) righting the ship of the Kushner family business, and 2) lining his pockets as much as possible—as if he were the son-in-law of Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev or Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev, and not the American president. Kushner proved willing to lie, cheat, steal, and even kill to fulfill his ambitious aims. Certainly he banked beaucoup bucks while in the White House.
I’m not sure if Kushner was “far and away” the most competent individual in the White House, but he was definitely reliable. Vanity Fair’s Katherine Eban, who wrote the bombshell stories exposing Kushner’s malfeasance during the early days of the pandemic, told me that he was regarded in most circles as the one guy in Trump’s inner circle who was effective. Certainly he knew how to work the WhatsApp and the Rolodex.
But here we are, five and a half years removed from him officially joining the Trump campaign, and Jared Kushner is no less an enigma than he was in November of 2015. What do we really know about him? Heck, I’m not even sure he boinks Ivanka, as I cringeally joked in that piece. He bears an uncanny resemblance to the powerful “beardless men,” the eunuchs, who once ran the Byzantine Empire: tall, long-limbed, hairless, high-voiced, and absolutely fucking ruthless.
Jason Leopold @JasonLeopoldHere is an email from Jared Kushner to Manafort and Lewandowksi describing his meeting with Kissinger and the guidance Kissinger provided to the Trump campaign https://t.co/mE8EsLaWP3 https://t.co/CzY4m5jfB4
To solve the riddle of Jared Kushner, it’s instructive to see where he sits in the Venn diagram. We begin with…
Above all else, Jared is his father’s son. He’s the one who ran the family real estate business while Chuck was in the clink. He’s the one who flew down to Alabama to visit him in the hoosegow every weekend while at college (at Harvard, which only agreed to admit him after Pops ponied up two and a half million samolians). Old Man Kushner was in prison for making illegal campaign donations to (Democratic) political candidates. When he realized that his brother-in-law was cooperating with federal prosecutors—Chris Christie, specifically—he hired a prostitute to seduce him, covertly videotaped the tryst, and then sent the tape to his sister. Some guy!
Before his fall from grace, Charles Kushner was a big wheel in New Jersey state politics. He was tight with the former governor Jim McGreevey—the same Jim McGreevey who resigned in disgrace after an aide threatened to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. All of this shit hit the fan when McGreevey nominated Charles Kushner to serve as the chair of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2002—in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
The elder Kushner “first came to prominence in national political circles as a top fund-raiser for New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli,” the New York Observer explained (back before Jared bought it). “He raised millions for Democrats during the 1990’s, including Vice President Al Gore. He calls former President Bill Clinton a friend.” Whether Bill Clinton reciprocates that sentiment, we can’t say. But Jared’s dad was certainly chummy with another head of state…
…who was such a close family friend that, as Narativ Live’s Zev Shalev reported, when he visited the United States, he stayed at the home of Charles Kushner. And in the room of Jared Kushner. (Jared was not in the room at the time, best as we can tell). Netanyahu has gone on to become the Trump of Israel, one of the more corrupt politicians in recent memory, willing to go to great lengths to hold onto power. Bibi’s countryman…
…is another Kushner associate, through some real estate deals and their shared support of Chabad-Lubavitch. “The King of Diamonds” managed to break the de Beers stranglehold on the diamond industry, striking lucrative deals with Angola and Russia, those pinnacles of non-corruption. Certain of his companies were cited in a Suspicious Activities Report, which JP Morgan Chase submitted to the U.S. Department of Treasury last year. Although Leviev has not been charged, or even accused of any wrongdoing, the report raised some red flags, as Shorim reports:
The bank minces no words when outlining the suspicions that formed the basis for submitting report, noting that some of the transfers appear atypical of the diamond business and the customers’ patterns of activity. The report also alleges suspicious activities in connection with the beneficiaries of the accounts, the authorized signatories and their owners. Some of the transactions, the bank claims, were cash transfers that give rise to concerns of layering, a term used to describe efforts to make the source of illegal money as difficult to detect as possible by progressively adding legitimacy to it. A sum of close to $60 million, the report says, was recorded as relating to "a loan" in the context of "a home," but the report doesn’t elaborate.
I don’t know how closely Leviev is involved with Kushner, but I know this: more diamonds are mined in Russia than any other country. There’s no way the billionaire Diamond King could have deals with Russia and not be in the good graces of Vladimir Putin.
Oh, and Leviev was a business partner of Prevezon Holdings, the Cypriot (but for all intents and purposes Russian) company busted for money laundering that was represented by…
…the attorney who initiated the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting, attended by Don Junior, Paul Manafort, and, yes, Jared Kushner. Natty V claimed she had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, which delighted the Trump campaign to no end. Once Kushner realized that said “dirt” was not forthcoming, he left the meeting early, but he was still, you know, there. (Sidenote: That meeting was actually about Bill Browder, his attorney Jamison Firestone, and the Magnitsky Act—as Firestone discusses on this coming Friday’s PREVAIL podcast).
…a former KGB officer, is the head of Vnesheconombank, or VEB, a Russian state-owned bank that is on the U.S. sanctions list. That did not stop Kushner from meeting with him in December of 2016, in New York. VEB later claimed that the meeting “was conducted with Kushner in his role as the head of his family’s real estate business,” according to the Washington Post. The Trump White House, meanwhile, described it as a “diplomatic meeting,” whatever that means.
Immediately after the rendezvous, Gorkov flew directly to see Putin, halfway around the world, ostensibly to report back in person. Wherefore the urgency, if all they had discussed was real estate?
The Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 campaign season, the multi-chinned Kislyak was almost certainly moonlighting as an intelligence officer. He met several times with Kushner during the campaign, including a covert December 2, 2016 get-together that also included Mike Flynn. At that meeting, Kushner famously proposed a Russian embassy backchannel to avoid the bother of disclosing communication between the camps going forward. Whatever went on at this sit-down, Kushner and Flynn went to great lengths to avoid discovery. Perhaps the Gorkov powwow two weeks later was a follow-up?
The first time that Kushner met Kislyak, as far as we know, was at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, on April 27, 2016. That was during Candidate Trump’s first major foreign policy speech, when he promised a “good deal” to Russia. Kushner arranged that meeting, with help from its sponsor…
…the head of the nonprofit Center for the National Interest, and a Russian national who most observers, including former KGB officer Yuri Shvets, believe was working for Russian intelligence. After meeting with the Mueller team—the chapter on him in the Mueller Report is longer than most people realize—Simes hightailed it back to the Motherland, where he now hosts (you can’t make this stuff up!) a pro-Putin gameshow. Kushner met Simes through—hold on to your hat…
…because this malevolent vampire couldn’t be content to ruin American foreign policy in the 20th century. Oh no, he just had to fuck us in the 21st century, too.
Kushner is BFFs with Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, a psychopath who ordered—and may even have watched via close-circuit TV—the brutal execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (which plot Kushner might have known about). For the first few years of the Trump presidency, Kushner was the de facto ambassador to the Kingdom. He was instrumental in making Saudi Arabia the first foreign nation President Trump visited. (I wrote about this at length in 2018.) MBS has bragged that Kushner is “in my pocket.”
Before all of that, MBS was a youthful royal trying to lead his country into modern times. He came to Hollywood and Silicon Valley, looking to diversify the Saudi sovereign fund. One of these wealthy California investors was…
…the head of William Morris Endeavor (WME), on whom the Entourage character Ari Gold is based. WME took some $400 million from the Saudis. After the Khashoggi assassination, Emanuel had to give it back. Which, I mean, could you imagine what a drag that would be? He knew just who to blame, too. He didn’t call Trump, his former client, to complain. He rang up Jared Kushner and gave him an earful. It’s telling that the King of Hollywood bypassed the president, whom he knows well, to talk to Kushner.
Emanuel is hardly the only media titan with whom Jared has ties. There’s also…
JARED KUSHNER is another high-profile Rubenstein client. And Jared’s relationship with Howard appears far more intimate.
Jared is reportedly so close to Rubenstein, that it was Howard who Jared turned to when his father, Charles Kushner, was sent to federal prison (convicted in 2005 for illegal campaign donations, witness tampering, and tax evasion). That sounds like a close relationship, doesn’t it?
Howard also played a pivotal role in another Kushner family milestone, when he advised Jared’s  purchase of…
The New York Observer
…the erudite, pink-sheeted New York institution, which Jared promptly destroyed—Trump’s not the only one whose touch brings on death—by trying to turn it into Buzzfeed. Or the tabloids published by…
…the head of AMI. You know, the company that puts out the National Enquirer and similar rags. After Michael Cohen got pinched, Kushner became the liaison between the Trump people and the tabloids. As the Daily Beast reported:
It was an easy choice, given that the two men had a pre-existing relationship. Two people with direct knowledge of their acquaintance say that Kushner and Pecker got to know each other years before Trump’s election, when Pecker was thinking about forging a business relationship with Kushner, who at the time owned The New York Observer.
A third media baron in Kushner’s circle is Rupert Murdoch. He and Ivanka are longtime friends of the News Corp. mogul’s ex-wife…
Wendi Deng Murdoch
…who, after the divorce, was rumored to be dating Vladimir Putin—although, for all we know, that rumor may have been started by her ex-husband. (To wit: she denies it). What we do know is that, in 2008, the Chinese-born Deng Murdoch helped Jared and Ivanka reconcile a relationship that was on the rocks; eight years later, she and Ivanka were on vacation together in Croatia. Oh, and in 2017, U.S. counterintelligence officials warned Jared Kushner that his old friend may be working for the Chinese. Specifically, she was suspected of lobbying for a company owned by the Chinese government that was involved with a big construction project in D.C.
History does not record Kushner’s response, but it was probably something like: “Well, duh.” Because the Kushner family business was, at that time, actively recruiting wealthy Chinese elites to plonk down half a million bucks for their own real estate project. The sales pitch was this: “Invest $500,000 and move to the United States!” With that kind of investment, Chinese nationals would be eligible to apply for EB-5 visas, which basically allow wealthy foreigners to emigrate to the U.S., provided they spend enough cash.
This is a long list, but hardly an exhaustive one. I didn’t discuss Tom Barrack and the Westinghouse/Saudi nuclear power plant plan, or Karlie Kloss, or the Qataris who ultimately gave him the loan for 666 Fifth Avenue, or Van Jones, or [checks notes] Hugh Jackman. Boy Plunder knows a lot of rich, famous, powerful people, including one with adamantium claws.
Here’s what I got right in my 2017 piece: Jared Kushner was, and remains, a grave threat to national security—if not since the Rosenbergs, at least since Edward Snowden. That pasty Slenderman motherfucker was read into god knows how many PDBs. He knows things. Given what he’s prioritized these last five years, and his history of proffering classified nuggets to Middle Eastern princes, can he be trusted not to try and monetize that intelligence? The DOJ needs to indict him for at least one of his laundry list of crimes, before it’s too late.