Emoluments

No conflict of interest here (boldface mine):

Not long before a major crisis ripped through the Middle East, pitting the United States and a bloc of Gulf countries against Qatar, Jared Kushner’s real estate company had unsuccessfully sought a critical half-billion-dollar investment from one of the richest and most influential men in the tiny nation, according to three well-placed sources with knowledge of the near transaction….

Qatar is facing an ongoing blockade led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and joined by Egypt and Bahrain, which President Trump has taken credit for sparking. Kushner, meanwhile, has reportedly played a key behind-the-scenes role in hardening the U.S. posture toward the embattled nation.

That hard line comes in the wake of the previously unreported half-billion-dollar deal that was never consummated. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Jared Kushner and his father, Charles, negotiated directly with a major investor in Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, known as HBJ for short, in an effort to refinance the property on Fifth Avenue, the sources said…

The $1.2 billion interest-only mortgage is due in February 2019. The office space is worth less than its mortgage and “there is no equity value” left in the office section of the building, Jed Reagan of Green Street Advisors told the New York Times in April. (Because they sold the retail space to make payments on other debt tied to the building, the office space is the only part of the tower the Kushners still have a stake in.) As a result, the family’s initial $500 million investment, once heralded as an example of Jared’s emergence as a brash real estate star, has for now effectively been wiped out. A massive refinancing and construction of a new tower that dramatically increases the building’s value is one way to try to get out of that hole…

Meanwhile, the water is rising on the Fifth Avenue investment. And the blockade continues.

Had the Qataris known where things were heading diplomatically, said the source in the region, they’d have happily ponied up the money, even knowing that it was a losing investment. “It would have been much cheaper,” he said.

In some ways, I don’t envy the press corps: it’s obvious that Kushner is not acting with the best interests of the U.S. in mind; instead, his decision making is wrapped in his own financial problems. He comes from an incredibly vindictive family, after all. The Qataris know that. Everyone with a functioning brain cell knows this. But without the proverbial smoking gun, reporters are left hinting at the obvious, when they should be screaming it from the roof.

This is how corruption flourishes (and, unfortuately, they all can’t be as stupid as Donald Trump, Jr.).

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