According to “Kushner, Inc.,” Gary Cohn, former director of the National Economic Council, has told people that Ivanka Trump thinks she could someday be president. “Her father’s reign in Washington, D.C., is, she believes, the beginning of a great American dynasty,”
.. Kushner, whose pre-White House experience included owning a boutique newspaper and helming a catastrophically ill-timed real estate deal, has arrogated to himself substantial parts of American foreign policy. According to Ward, shortly after Rex Tillerson was confirmed as secretary of state, Kushner told him “to leave Mexico to him because he’d have Nafta wrapped up by October.”
.. As political actors, the couple are living exemplars of the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological phenomenon which leads incompetent people to overestimate their ability because they can’t grasp how much they don’t know.
Partly, the Jared and Ivanka story is about the “reality distortion field” — a term one of Ward’s sources uses about Kushner — created by great family wealth. She quotes a member of Trump’s legal team saying that the two “have no idea how normal people perceive, understand, intuit.” Privilege, in them, has been raised to the level of near sociopathy.
.. Ward, the author of two previous books about the worlds of high finance and real estate, has known Kushner slightly for a long time; she told me that when he bought The New York Observer newspaper in 2006, he tried to hire her. She knocks down the idea that either he or his wife is a stabilizing force or moral compass in the Trump administration. Multiple White House sources told her they think it was Kushner who ordered the closing of White House visitor logs in April 2017, because he “didn’t want his frenetic networking exposed.” Ward reports that Cohn was stunned by their blasé reaction to Trump’s defense of the white-nationalist marchers in Charlottesville, Va.: “He was upset that they were not sufficiently upset.”
Still, even if you assume that the couple are amoral climbers, their behavior still doesn’t quite make sense. Ward writes that Ivanka’s chief concern is her personal brand, but that brand has been trashed. The book cites an October 2017 survey measuring consumer approval of more than 1,600 brands. Ivanka’s fashion line was in the bottom 10. A leading real estate developer tells Ward that Kushner, now caught up in multiple state and federal investigations, has become radioactive: “No one will want to do business with him.” (Kushner resigned as C.E.O. of Kushner Companies in 2017, but has kept most of his stake in the business.)
To truly make sense of their motivations, Ward told me, you have to understand the gravitational pull of their fathers. Husband and wife are both “really extraordinarily orientated and identified through their respective fathers in a way that most fully formed adults are not,” she said.
“You’ll notice that the U.S. position toward Qatar changes when the Qataris bail out 666 Fifth Avenue,” said Ward, adding, “We look like a banana republic.” Maybe that’s why Jared and Ivanka appear so blithely confident. As public servants, they’re obviously way out of their depth. But as self-dealing scions of a gaudy autocracy? They’re naturals.
The deal, in which Brookfield paid the rent for the entire 99-year term upfront, helps remove the family’s biggest financial headache: a $1.4 billion mortgage on the office portion of the tower that was due in February next year.
.. The Kushners have spent more than two years on an international search for new partners or fresh financing that stretched from the Middle East to China.
The deal would enable the Kushners to pay off at least a large portion of what they owe lenders and retain ownership of the land beneath the tower. But they may not make any money from it.
.. Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, who now runs the company, in turn, negotiated with his lenders to pay less than the company owed to satisfy the debts, the executive said.
Analysts have long said that 666 Fifth was worth less than its debts. The building was 30 percent vacant and only generated about half the annual mortgage payments. In recent months, the building’s largest remaining tenant, Millennium Management, signaled that it too planned to leave.
.. Jared and Charles Kushner sold 666 Fifth’s most valuable asset — the Fifth Avenue retail space — for $525 million and used the proceeds to pay down some of their debt. But office rents continued to fall and two of the tower’s biggest tenants left.
.. In 2016, Charles and Jared Kushner pitched a new deal to investors in the United States and abroad: They would demolish the building and erect a $7.5 billion luxury supertower in its place. They got close to a deal with a billionaire from Qatar, Hamad Jassim Al-Thani, the country’s former prime minister, and with Anbang, a giant Chinese insurance company.
.. Mr. Kushner argued that 666 Fifth was not worth the $1.4 billion that was owed.
.. At 666 Fifth Avenue, Brookfield is betting on a turnaround based on the building’s premier location on Fifth Avenue, near Rockefeller Center and Central Park, and its access to public transportation. The company plans to spend about $700 million renovating the lobby, installing new elevators, refurbishing the vacant office space and attracting new tenants.
“666 Fifth Avenue has the potential to be one of New York City’s most iconic and successful office properties,” Ric Clark, chairman of Brookfield Property Group, said
.. Brookfield is one of the world’s biggest real estate companies, and among its investors is the Qatar Investment Authority, one of the world’s largest sovereign funds
.. That has raised questions given Jared Kushner’s portfolio in the White House, which includes the Middle East.
Brookfield has said that the Qataris had no knowledge of the deal before its public announcement.
But while Will & Kate & Harry & Meghan are seen as a unit, pulling for Mother England together, Jared & Ivanka & Josh & Karlie are seen in opposition, in a public tug of war over American values.
Even as Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are inside the White House, helping to shape policies, Josh Kushner and Karlie Kloss are outside it, protesting against some of those policies.
It’s a perfect illustration of the riven state of the country right now, where all manner of Americans — from the Kushners to my family to the characters on “Roseanne” — are glaring at each other over an insurmountable fence.
.. Ivanka found that she could not reignite her father’s more liberal impulses, any hope that the pair could be a moderating influence vanished. Members of their old moneyed set began to dismiss Jared as “dumb” and “arrogant,” as several put it to me, and Ivanka as complicit, the label she got after Scarlett Johansson played her on “Saturday Night Live.”
.. one Vogue.com headline sniped in July, “It’s Time to Collectively and Officially Give Up on Ivanka Trump.”
.. The low point for the self-proclaimed daddy’s girl came a month ago when The Times reported that the president might be using his chief of staff, John Kelly, an adversary to Javanka, to push them out and back to New York.
.. “It’s not like they could leave and all of a sudden you have this quiet life. Look at Don Jr.” At this point, being a Trump is less a good brand than a bad state of mind.
.. His crown jewel, a health insurance company called Oscar, was structured around Obamacare — the main thing Trump has been trying to explode.
.. Josh and Karlie, both about 6-foot-2, ambitious and private, also showed up at the gun-control march last weekend. Josh posted a picture on Instagram of Karlie holding a sign that read “Load Minds, Not Guns” and donated $50,000 to the cause.
.. (Tiffany Trump, for her part, liked a post on Instagram showing a guy holding a sign that said “Next massacre will be the GOP in the midterm elections.”)
.. Like Ivanka before her, Karlie has had some rough patches in her romance because of the severe pressure she faces from Seryl and Charles Kushner, the parents of Josh and Jared, to convert to Orthodox Judaism.
.. In a story in The Forward, Margaret Abrams noted that, of course, the Kushners would not have been pleased with two such “WASP-worthy girls,” but given Charles’s controversial past, “they can’t exactly complain about the shiksas treating Yom Kippur like a juice fast.”
Reports emerged in June that Kushner had opposed choosing Christie as Trump’s running mate. Christie denied that he and Kushner were feuding at the time.Christie prosecuted Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, in 2004 when he served as attorney general for New Jersey. The elder Kushner pleaded guilty to “crimes of greed, power, and excess,” according to the New York Times.Sources told Politico that Christie’s aides clashed with Kushner in recent days.“The Christie people are from New Jersey, they act like they’re in charge, and Jared Kushner is like, ‘You’re not really in charge,’ ” the source said.