How Jared Kushner Became His Family’s ‘Fredo’

Jared Kushner, Fredo Corleone
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images-Paramount Pictures

A devastating article in Vanity Fair details at length President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s track record of mediocrity and bad business decisions — with the author comparing Kushner to the bumbling Fredo Corleone from The Godfather.

The long read article — written by Rich Cohen — documents Kushner’s rise to the White House, citing claims that he got into Harvard and NYU not due to his grades, which were mediocre, but because of lavish donations his disgraced father Charles poured into the colleges.

“Any idiot can get a genius into Harvard. It takes a macher to get a middling white kid admitted,” the article says before offering the following assessment of Kushner:

He’s a beautiful new house made to look old, a beautiful new house with fogged windows. You lean close and stare inside and still see nothing. The rooms may be filled with antique furniture. Or maybe it’s Ikea. Or maybe the house is empty.

After covering Kushner’s family history, the piece engages in a detailed look at the two major decisions Kushner made: buying the New York Observer newspaper and investing in 666 Fifth Avenue — both of which are widely regarded as abysmal decisions.

On the Observer, Cohen notes that it is far from clear whether Kushner ever really read the paper before he took ownership, but perhaps the attraction was that it made him “interesting, powerful, a figure of fascination” as he rubbed shoulders with top New York figures the likes of Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, and Rupert Murdoch. It was shortly after acquiring the Observer that he met Ivanka Trump — his future wife.

Kushner took the reins of the already struggling Observer and turned it from an up-market broadsheet into a tabloid-y “pithy” online site with articles such as: “If You Want to Radically Change Your Life, You Need to Take This First Step.” No longer with a print edition, the Observer is now a ghost of its former self.

The article also details how Kushner went after the purchase of a 41-story office block on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, on the brink of the real-estate market’s collapse.

His family business, Kushner Companies, bought the building in January 2007, putting up just $500 million of the total $1.8 billion cost — meaning they took on a mega $1.2 billion mortgage. When the market crashed, rents to cover interest payments disappeared and the property went underwater, with Vanity Fair reporting that the company lost $10 million a year on the property. Jared sold his stake in the company when his father-in-law took office in January, and Kushner Companies is now looking for a big-money investor, possibly in China, to help them out –  or else they may be in trouble.

“The mortgage comes due on 666 in less than two years. If the Kushners don’t figure out something, they could lose their investment,” Cohen writes. “Simply put, this Spruce Goose of a deal must be considered among the worst in the history of Manhattan real estate.”

The article wraps up Kushner’s record thus:

Think about it: before entering the White House, Jared had made just two significant business plays—both less than stellar. He bought the Observer a moment before the newspaper industry collapsed. He bought 666 Fifth a moment before the real-estate bubble burst.

When Cohen was discussing his article with Observer employees, he says they made comparisons with The Godfather, no doubt in part because Kushner’s father went to prison on federal corruption charges, noting how Kushner’s story was somewhat similar to the heir apparent in a mob family. Wondering whether Kushner is Sonny or Michael, Cohen considers whether Kushner is closer to the insecure son who ruins the family business: “What about Fredo?” he asks.

Kushner’s troubles have not stopped since getting to the White House. As senior adviser, he is believed to have been behind some of the worst decisions of the administration. He reportedly recommended the firing of FBI Director James Comey — a move that triggered the establishment of a probe into Russian interference by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Kushner is also believed to have recommended the hiring of doomed communications director Anthony Scaramucci — who lasted just 10 days in the job.

And he is also believed to have been responsible for pushing Trump to back Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in the Alabama Senate race — a move that Trump himself admitted may have been a “mistake” just days before Strange was soundly beaten by conservative challenger Judge Roy Moore.

Kushner faces problems of his own too. Kushner Companies has reportedly become a topic of interest for Mueller as he investigates alleged Russian interference, and the company was subpoenaed for its use of an immigration-for-investment scheme and for promoting the scheme to Chinese investors. Just this week, Kushner hit the headlines for being one of a number of White House officials who have occasionally used personal email for White House business.

Meanwhile, amid his sagas and poor advice, Kushner’s list of achievements is minimal at best. In Cohen’s article, he writes, “Here are the tasks he’s accomplished:”

Below is just a blank space.

Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY


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