U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner tried and failed to secure a $500m loan from one of Qatar's richest businessmen, The Intercept reported Monday. According to the report and others, Kushner's business relationship soured before he began pushing his father-in-law to tow a hard line with the country.
After Qatar's neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations of supporting terrorism and ties to Iran, Trump himself called on Qatar to stop funding of groups that commit terrorism, saying the Gulf nation had historically done so "at a very high level."
The Intercept’s Ben Walsh, Ryan Grim, and Clayton Swisher report that beginning in 2015, Kushner and his father, Charles, negotiated directly with former Qatar prime minister and billionaire investor Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to refinance their property at 666 Fifth Avenue.
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"Trump himself has unsuccessfully sought financing in recent years from the Qataris, but it is difficult to overstate just how important the investment at 666 Fifth Avenue is for Kushner, his company, and his family’s legacy in real estate," reported The Intercept.
Early in his real estate career, Jared Kushner purchased 666 Fifth Avenue in New York for $1.8 billion, which was a record at the time.
Today a quarter of the office space in the building is vacant, and according to The New York Times, the building has not generated enough to pay its debts in several years, forcing Kushner Companies to cover the multimillion-dollar difference.
The report raised questions about the status of the deal between Thani and Kushner suggesting their dealings are on-going, which raises a severe conflict of interest: "If the deal is not entirely dead, that means Jared Kushner is on the one hand pushing to use the power of American diplomacy to pummel a small nation while on the other his firm is hoping to extract an extraordinary amount of capital from there for a failing investment. If, however, the deal is entirely dead, the pummeling may be seen as intimidating to other investors on the end of a Kushner Companies pitch."
Vanity Fair also reported on the story adding that, according to a “close associate of Tillerson,” the secretary was “convinced that the true author of Trump’s statement [attacking Qatar] was U.A.E. ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, a close friend of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner,” and that, "Rex put two-and-two together and concluded that this absolutely vacuous kid was running a second foreign policy out of the White House family quarters. Otaiba weighed in with Jared and Jared weighed in with Trump.”