September 18, 2017

Maybe Ivanka should have taken her husband aside at some point in the last few years and told him that her father didn't really write "The Art of the Deal" and that his mogul status was largely just a fabrication of reality television producers and that truth be told, he kind of sucks as a businessman. And though I'm not a superstitious person, maybe the purchase of the address "666 Fifth Avenue" should give one pause, especially when you buy it for over-market value.

But since Ivanka is as poor an adviser to her husband as she is to her father, the deal was done.

They had a plan. Counting on the raised profile that his father-in-law's presidential run gave them, the Kushner family reached out to various potential funders and tenants, both domestically and internationally. They wanted to renovate 666 Fifth Avenue into a modern skyscraper. They thought they could more than make up for the higher purchase price by raising the rents on what would be a "prestige address," similarly to how Trump capitalized on his campaign by making sure Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago rates went up.

But then Trump won the election. And in an axiom that should be engraved in the entry hall of the White House: never trust dilettantes with no public service background to know how to run the government. Kushner's ineptness in real estate has translated to a similar ineptness in Washington and a big mess for his family. Chicago Tribune:

Kushner met in December with a Russian banker, leading to questions about whether he was mixing his role in the coming Trump administration with his business. A Chinese insurance fund and a former Qatari foreign minister backed away from a potential $900 million investment in the skyscraper. Another foreign funding stream was disrupted when Kushner Cos. came under federal scrutiny for its use of a controversial federal visas-for-investment program at another project.

Today, 666 Fifth Avenue appears to be the most troubled of the projects Kushner left behind for his family to manage. With a fourth of its offices empty, lease revenue does not cover monthly interest payments, according to lending documents. A huge $1.2 billion mortgage loan, with escalating interest rates, comes due in 18 months. A ratings agency has classified a $115 million portion of the loan as "troubled," and company officials decline to say whether it will be fully repaid.

"They were crushed by this," said Thomas Barrack, a friend of Trump and Kushner and former project investor. Kushner's move to the White House "just about completely chilled the market, and [potential investors] just said, 'No way - can't be associated with any appearances of conflict of interest,' even though there was none."

I suspect there are many things they don't want to be associated with as far as the Trump administration goes.

But that hasn't stopped Jared from trying to get bailout funds from

Call me crazy, but this seems to be a little problematic. Is he actually traveling around for the country or his portfolio?

Author Tim O'Brien can't tell us, but I bet Robert Mueller is looking into it.

Can you help us out?

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