Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What Influence Does Zionism Have On Trump?


Ryan Dawson on Trump's Zionist Ball & Chain
Published on Jun 27, 2017
Ryan Dawson returns to Our Interesting Times to discuss his latest documentary "Trump's Zionist Ball & Chain: The Devils of Real Estate." We discuss the influence of the Kushner family in the Trump Administration and how a Zionist criminal cabal has used various agencies like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to enrich itself and suborn the US government on behalf of a foreign power.
Ryan Dawson on Zionism and the Jewish Lobby
Ryan Dawson
Published on Oct 17, 2016

Ryan Dawson of the ANC Report returns to discuss Zionism and the power of the Jewish lobby. We talk about the historical influence Zionists and the Israel Lobby have had on American life and the U.S. government's foreign policy. 

Who Is Jared Kushner? 20 Things You Need to Know About Donald Trump's Son-in-Law.
Ivanka Trump's husband wields extraordinary influence in the Trump sphere.
By Helin Jung
Jun 16, 2017
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's 36-year-old son-in-law, is now serving as a senior adviser in the Trump administration. Though Jared did not have an official role during Trump's campaign, he was nevertheless seen as a "de facto campaign manager," and he later served as a member of Trump's transition team.
The New York Times reported in November that Jared was exploring ways to join the Trump administration without breaking the federal anti-nepotism law and he was cleared by the Justice Department to serve in the administration in January. CNBC reported that Kushner would be resigning from his role as CEO at Kushner Companies and divesting his "substantial assets," including his stakes in the Observer, where he served as publisher.
Jared is one of the most influential people in Trump's circle. He has been called someone who "enjoys a Rasputin-like power" with Trump.
Here's what you need to know about Jared Kushner:
1. His White House transition has reportedly been difficult.
Jared is considered to be part of the "power center" in the White House, reports the Washington Post, along with Steven Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Reince Priebus. But in the early days of the administration, Kushner appears to have gotten caught up in some workplace politics. Sources told the Washington Post that observers "have been alarmed by Kushner's efforts to elbow aside anyone he perceives as a possible threat to his role as Trump's chief consigliere."
According to Vanity Fair, Jared's adjustment to Washington has been tough. "Kushner appears unable to control both his father-in-law and those around him," writes Emily Jane Fox. A source told Fox that Jared's influence on Trump "may be flagging." After Jared successfully negotiated a meeting with Mexico's president, Trump canceled it, leaving Jared "fucking furious." Not only that, Jared isn't looking so great these days, according to Fox's source. "His body language and his demeanor toward Trump had changed, and he had lost a noticeable amount of weight from his already slight frame in just a week."
2. He has no prior experience in government or politics.
Apart from a semester as a member of the Institute of Politics during his freshman year at Harvard, Jared has not been engaged politically. While visiting the White House after the election, Jared reportedly asked, "How many of these people stay?" (Answer: Pretty much none.) Though comparatively inexperienced in politics, Jared has proved to be a quick study. "Honestly, Jared is a very successful real estate person, but I actually think he likes politics more than he likes real estate," Donald Trump said at a rally. "But he's very good at politics."
Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon.
Jared's personal political leanings are harder to identify. He fully backs his Republican father-in-law and publishes a newspaper that has become more conservative in its leanings since he purchased it. But he has stated in the past that he admires Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, and has a framed photo of John F. Kennedy, another Democrat, by his desk. Trump has said Kushner will help broker a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinans, telling him at a pre-inauguration, "If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can."
3. He was born into wealth.
Jared's father, Charles "Charlie" Kushner, founded the real estate development organization Kushner Companies in 1985 and built it into a billion-dollar enterprise. Jared had a correspondingly privileged upbringing in New Jersey. According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Daniel Golden, Jared benefited from the incredible advantage of being his father's son. Though he did not perform especially well academically, Jared was accepted to Harvard, reportedly after his father gave $2.5 million to the university. While at Harvard, Jared reportedly drove a Range Rover (though he has said that he "didn't have a car" in college). About driving that Range Rover though: "He didn't do it with a sense of humor," a classmate told the New Yorker. "He did it, like, 'I'm fucking rich.'"
4. He is an Orthodox Jew.
Jared's wife, Ivanka Trump, converted to Judaism from Presbyterianism before the couple's 2009 wedding. Religion — specifically, the Kushner family's objection to the fact that Ivanka wasn't Jewish — was reportedly one of the reasons for their brief breakup in 2008. Now, the couple are shomrei Shabbos. They observe the Sabbath, turning off cell phones and walking instead of driving between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. Jared did make an exception in early October, when he joined a team of Trump advisers on a Saturday to deal with the fallout of the Access Hollywood tape. He and Ivanka also 
received an exemption during Inauguration weekend so that they could participate in the evening celebrations.
5. He professes that Donald Trump is not an anti-Semite or a racist.
In July, when Trump tweeted (then deleted) an image from a white supremacist web forum of Hillary Clinton that featured the Star of David and the phrase "most corrupt candidate ever," Jared defended his father-in-law in his newspaper, the Observer.
"It’s that simple, really," he wrote. "Donald Trump is not anti-Semitic and he’s not a racist." In the piece, Jared revealed the story of his grandparents, Holocaust survivors from Poland who emigrated to the United States in 1949. His family members called him out on Facebook for it. "That my grandparents have been dragged into this is a shame," wrote Jared's estranged cousin Jacob Schulder, according to Politico. "Thank you Jared for using something sacred and special to the descendants of Joe and Rae Kushner to validate the sloppy manner in which you've handled this campaign."
Jared's justification of his father-in-law's racist statements has become even more questionable since Trump's appointment of Ku Klux Klan-endorsed 
Steve Bannon to the role of chief strategist in the administration. Ultimately, Jared seems to have chosen loyalty to his family above all else.
6. He had to shoulder his family business from a young age.
Charles Kushner
Jared was studying to get a dual MBA and law degree at New York University (Charles's alma mater and the recipient of another notable donation of $3 million) when his father was sent to prison for tax fraud, witness tampering, and illegal campaign donations. Jared took over Kushner Companies as CEO in 2008 when he was 27 years old, abandoning his legal aspirations. "My dad’s arrest made me realize I didn’t want to be a prosecutor anymore," Jared told The Real Deal in 2014. "Seeing my father’s situation, I felt what happened was obviously unjust in terms of the way they pursued him. I just never wanted to be on the other side of that and cause pain to the families I was doing that to, whether right or wrong. The moral weight of that was probably a bit more than I could carry."
Taking over for his father might have happened sooner than he would have liked, but Jared was fully prepared. Charles had been bringing along Jared and his younger brother Joshua (now a tech entrepreneur and boyfriend of Karlie Kloss; they were both #WithHer) when he was doing business since they were very young children. While at Harvard, Jared had a successful side gig of acquiring buildings in Somerville, Massachusetts, and turning them over for a profit.
7. He remains incredibly close with his father.
Some suspect that Jared is a figurehead and that Charles actually runs Kushner Companies. Regardless, they work on the same floor of 666 Fifth Ave., a building Jared purchased in 2007 for $1.8 billion. At the time, it was the most anyone had paid for a building in New York City.
While his father was serving time in Alabama, Jared visited him on weekends. "He was the best son to his father in jail, the best son to his mother, who suffered terribly, and he was a father to his siblings," Charles told New York magazine in 2009. As a testament to his father, Jared said in the same New York profile, "I speak with my father about everything in my life." Before she married Jared, Ivanka described the father-son relationship as "really beyond beautiful."
8. He has many tangled social and political connections.
This is the part where the story gets even more biblical, so buckle up. Charles had, for many years, been a top political donor, giving large sums to mostly Democratic candidates, including Bill and Hillary Clinton (and Rudolph Giuliani too).
Charles also gave money to former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey (the guy who resigned after admitting that his "truth" was that he was a "gay American"). After winning the 2002 gubernatorial race, McGreevey appointed Charles to the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Donald Trump with Jim McGreevey (right).
Charles's older brother Murray and a former Kushner Companies accountant brought separate lawsuits against Charles relating to his political contributions. Enter Chris Christie, then the U.S. Attorney General of New Jersey, who launched a criminal investigation.
Charles believed that his younger sister Esther Schulder was working with authorities, and he tried to blackmail her by setting her husband up with a prostitute and videotaping the sexual encounter that followed. The trap didn't work, and Charles eventually pleaded guilty to the felony charges against him. Christie later became the governor of the state, then a presidential candidate, and finally, a top Trump adviser.
It's worth noting too that Jared, through his rise as a member of the Manhattan elite, has made many friends with the city's most powerful people, including Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch and his ex-wife Wendi Deng, Chelsea Clinton and her husband Mark Mezvinsky, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and Joel Klein, former New York City schools chancellor.
9. He played a considerable role in the Trump campaign.
Jared has been credited with masterminding the campaign's social media operation. Along with Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr., he persuaded Trump to fire former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and to pick Reince Preibus as chief of staff. He has been instrumental in smoothing Trump's relationships with Fox News, the Republican establishment, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
According to a report in Fortune, "One aide recalled having a private phone conversation with Trump when he heard Kushner’s voice unexpectedly. Trump was talking on speaker phone, the aide realized, while Kushner was in the room."
On Tuesday, as part of the transition process, Trump began receiving the Presidential Daily Brief, a daily document that only the president, vice president, and select Cabinet-level officials have access to. According to Andrea Mitchell, Trump's team requested that Jared receive access to the PDB.
 Follow Andrea Mitchell ✔ @mitchellreportsTrump team has asked for son in law Jared Kushner to have top secret clearance for Presidential Daily Brief no precedent for that6:54 PM - 15 Nov 2016  4,343 4,343 Retweets   3,587 3,587 likes
For further proof of Jared's importance to Trump, notice Jared's place at the table:
10. He seems to have an appetite for revenge.
Recall Gov. Christie's role in Jared's father's downfall in 2004. Now, 12 years later, Jared has avenged his father with a breathtaking forcefulness. It was widely reported that Christie was being considered for the role of running mate; Jared pushed for the selection of Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana instead. 
Image result for jared kushner vanity
Christie was later put in charge of Trump's transition team; Jared again was the agent behind Christie's eventual ouster from that role. On Monday, Christie loyalist former Congressman Mike Rogers suddenly resigned from the transition team. It was reported by NBC News to be part of a "Stalinesque purge" of anyone close to Christie.
In another example of Jared's reported ability to hold a grudge, staffers at the Observer have spoken about how Jared ordered a hit piece on fellow real estate scion Richard Mack after their business relationship soured. For two years, Jared pushed for the story, but nothing legitimate emerged in the reporting and the piece eventually got killed. Jared denies these claims.
11. He has shown unvarnished disdain for the press.

A former Observer editor told the New Yorker that Jared "hates reporters and the press. Viscerally." He blames the New Jersey media for damaging his family's reputation. He even said that he didn't like reading the Observer before he purchased it. "I found the paper unbearable to read, it was like homework," he told New York. Jared also doesn't think the mainstream media had any bearing on the Trump campaign. One source told Bloomberg Businessweek that, "One thing Jared always tells Donald is that if the New York Times and cable news mattered, he would be at 1 percent in the polls." Still, he was rumored to want to start a Trump television network after the election.
12. He is intensely private.
Jared rarely gives interviews and has no social media presence of his own other than a Twitter account that has zero tweets. When he appears on social media, it's through Ivanka's Instagram, and he is usually pictured holding one of their three children: Arabella, 5; Joseph, 3; and Theodore, 7 months.
Image result for One of our favorite fall traditions--apple picking in New Jersey!
13. He is genteel.
Hardly a story has been written about him that doesn't reference his politeness, or the fact that he is soft-spoken and well-behaved. "I’ve never seen any kind of erratic behavior from him," real estate lawyer Robert Ivanhoe told The Real Deal. The publicist Peggy Siegel gushed to Vanity Fair: "Besides being devastatingly handsome, he is well mannered, well bred, and so well turned out."
14. He and Ivanka like to talk business.
The meet-cute story Ivanka most often tells is that she and Jared met for the first time because a mutual acquaintance thought it would be good for them to know each other professionally. They fell for each other, and now they refer to it as "the best deal we ever made!" When asked in 2015 by the New York Times if his wife was involved in his business, Jared said, "She’s a great sounding board." They support each other's work lives: "I'm happy for him when he is in the office working late," Ivanka told New York. "I know how good that feels when you sit down and return e-mails." In a Vogue profile, Ivanka shared a story about one of her date nights with Jared. "So, my husband's idea of a date night somehow always involves me looking at one of his development sites."
In that same Vogue story, Jared said, "I would say she is definitely the CEO of our household, whereas I'm more on the board of directors. We both pick up slack for each other where it's needed, but she doesn't want to outsource mothering, so she's very involved."
15. He expresses pride in his growing family.
Image result for The whole family feeding Theodore his first ever spoonfuls of food--apple sauce!
Jared appears to be a hands-on father from the occasional images of him with his children on social media. "You see in life that things can be taken from you, whether it's money, status or freedom," Jared told the Guardian in 2008. "But the things that can't be taken are the things that are most important to work to achieve, such as love and family and friendships."
Jared has also expressed his support for his wife. "She always has it in her to accomplish whatever she puts her mind to," he said in a promotional video for Ivanka's #WomenWhoWork campaign.
The feeling is mutual. "He's a bit of a hero of mine," Ivanka told New York. "His ability to remain focused — he lacks an anxiety that’s natural for someone his age handed so much responsibility. Sometimes I catch myself looking at him and being thankful that I have grown to a level of personal maturity that I would value so much the qualities he has."
16. His family was negotiating a $400 million real estate deal with a Chinese firm.
Related image
Jared's family's New York real estate company was in negotiations to sell a stake in its Fifth Avenue flagship skyscraper to a Chinese insurance company, according to the New York Times. The insurance company, called Anbang Insurance Group, has ties to families of the Communist Party, and the results of the deal could have potentially presented a conflict of interest. While Jared, senior adviser to Trump, would be helping to oversee American foreign policy, his family would have been receiving financial gains from a Chinese company.
When asked about the deal, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, "Jared went through extraordinary lengths” to comply with conflict-of-interest rules. White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks also said Jared had sold his interest in the building to a trust in which no one in his immediate family is a beneficiary.
The New York Times also reported that a spokesman for Anbang said in a statement there was no agreement and “there is no investment from Anbang for this deal.” Now the New York Times has reported that the deal has fallen apart.
17. He will run a new White House Office of American Innovation.
Trump tapped his son-in-law to head up a new office focused on fixing U.S. bureaucracy through business-world ideas. “Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements,”  the Washington Post reported. “The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens,” Kushner said. Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff, and Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk are among the business leaders who will work with this new office.
18. He will face questions over his contact with Russians.
In March 2017, the Senate Intelligence Committee informed the White House that, as part of its investigation into possible links between Trump associates and Russian officials or other people linked to Russian president Vladmir Putin, it wanted Kushner
to answer questions about meetings involving Russianambassador Sergey Kislyakaccording to the New York Times. Kushner met with Kislyak in December at Trump Tower and later that month met with Sergey N. Gorkov, head of the Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank. White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Times Kushner would talk to investigators because “he isn’t trying to hide anything and wants to be transparent.”
On May 25, the Washington Post reported that Kushner is a considered a key person in the FBI investigation into the Russian interference with the election. NBC News reported that investigators believe he has “significant information” related to the probe, but noted that this doesn’t mean he’s suspected of a crime or that the investigators have plans to charge him.
Then on May 26, the Washington Post reported that during their meeting in December, Kushner and Kislyak had discussed creating a secret "communications channel" between the Kremlin and Trump's transition team, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.
A few days later, the New York Times reported that federal and congressional investigators are now looking into what Kushner and Gorkov wanted to get out of their meeting. According to Politico, Kushner’s lawyers have said that he is willing to testify before Congress about these meetings. On June 15, the Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to oversee the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, is looking into Kushner's business dealings.
19. He reportedly failed to disclose $1 billion in loans and his position as part-owner of the startup, Cadre.
Image result for Peter Thiel
Kushner did not reveal his stake in the real-estate finance startup on his government financial disclosure form, though his stake in the company means he is also a business partner of Goldman Sachs, George Soros and Peter Thielaccording to the Wall Street Journal. He also failed to note at least $1 billion in loans, given to properties and companies that Kushner partly owns.
Kushner's lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, says that a new, revised version of Kushner's financial disclosure form — one that includes the Cadre stake — will be made public once it's certified by ethics authorities.
Gorelick also said it's "normal" for someone to revise his or her financial disclosure form and that Kushner has "resigned from Cadre's board, assigned his voting rights, and reduced his ownership share.”
20. Russian ambassador reportedly told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin.
On Friday, May 2, the Washington Post reported that according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports, Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., told his superiors in December that Kushner asked him about setting up a communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin. The meeting is said to have occurred on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower in New York and was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser. Kislyak was reportedly "taken aback" by the request and the Washington Post writes that people familiar with the situation say it's of investigative interest to the FBI.
I worked for Jared Kushner. He’s the wrong businessman to reinvent government.
How the New York Observer could predict the fate of the Office of American Innovation.
By Elizabeth Spiers
March 30, 2017
Jared Kushner is President Donald Trump's son-in-law but he's also one of his key confidants. Here's a closer look at the president's senior advisor. (Video: Deirdra O'Regan/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
On my first day of work as the editor in chief of the New York Observer, which had been acquired five years earlier by Jared Kushner, now the son-in-law and senior adviser to President Trump, I inherited an office and a desktop computer, both in fine but used condition. The computer was a recent-model Mac, but when I turned it on, it was inexplicably running Windows. I summoned our beleaguered IT guy to explain, and he informed me that it had belonged to Kushner, who liked the design of Apple products but preferred the Windows OS.
“So he was basically using a $2,500 desktop as a monitor?” I asked. The IT guy shrugged.
In retrospect, this tiny moment seems like a metaphor. Frankensteining two products you appreciate into one product you appreciate even more isn’t irrational; it’s even creative, in a way. On the other hand, why did the newspaper’s owner need a $2,500 monitor? How was it anything but a vanity object?
That moment in 2011 came back to me when the Trump administration announced this past week that Kushner would lead the newly created Office of American Innovation to “infuse fresh thinking” into government institutions by utilizing the hard-won knowledge of great American business executives. The appointment was announced with a breathlessness that suggests no one has ever thought of it before, or that former great American business executives have never worked in government until now.
But I worked for Kushner for 18 months as he tried to infuse a much smaller institution than the U.S. government with cost-cutting impulses from the commercial real estate world. And my experience doesn’t bode well for the Office of American Innovation. Not everything that works in the private sector is transferrable to the public sector — and even if it were, Kushner isn’t the best person to transfer it.
 * * *
I was the youngest editor in the Observer’s history and not an obvious choice, but Kushner liked me because I had been the founding editor of Gawker, 
Image result for gawker media
which had grown into one of the largest indie media companies in the country, with more than 100 million unique visitors a month, and because I had an entrepreneurial and digital background. I also had started a Wall Street site he’d considered acquiring, and I was the only candidate he interviewed who asked to see the Observer’s financials before I would take the job.
[Jared Kushner’s White House job may be legal, but history shows it’s a bad idea]
Almost 40 percent of my compensation was in the form of a performance bonus contingent upon hitting growth milestones while staying under budget. I was fine with being held accountable; I viewed the paper as a business, just as Kushner did.
But I resigned in 2012 for a variety of reasons, chiefly that the president of the company and I couldn’t persuade Kushner to recapitalize the Observer — even though I reached all my numbers. When the paper had a profitable quarter for what I was told was the first time, Kushner floated the idea of layoffs to increase the margins, seemingly ignoring the fact that staff reductions would also reduce ad inventory by reducing content. A material part of what had been attractive about the job was the promise of expansion and growth. But we submitted business plans over and over again, and Kushner rejected them. He wanted the Observer to be cheaper to run, usually at the expense of growth and evolution, and he could not see the relationship between scale and profit — between risk and reward. (The White House did not answer a request from The Washington Post to provide Kushner’s perspective for this story.)
He viewed investments in terms of opportunity costs. “Why should I put more money into the Observer when I could invest in a software company?” he would say. This is a legitimate question for any returns-driven investor. But news media doesn’t scale like software. You need people to produce content, at least until artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated and sensitive sources are willing to trust a bot.
Why would you buy a newspaper if you expect it to scale the way software does? Why assume that media and software have the same risk profile and dynamics? Kushner would frequently point to a media company with a 60-person editorial staff and ask why our two-person desk wasn’t producing as many stories or as much traffic. Or he’d argue, bizarrely and incorrectly, that because Gawker started with one person, that meant you didn’t need head count to scale a media company. The Internet makes media more scalable, of course — distribution is unlimited and gained at little marginal cost. But that doesn’t mean a media company is just like Uber.
That same obsession with the tech world permeates Kushner’s new project. Cost-cutting is important in situations where there is excess, but it is not what catalyzes evolution; if the point here is to make government more effective, not just more efficient, cuts alone won’t do it. The Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Kushner has roped into helping him with the new office — such as Apple’s Tim Cook, 
Image result for Apple’s Tim Cook
Salesforce boss Marc Benioff and Tesla founder Elon Musk — would be the first to tell him that scale is important, and that growth is often a function of prioritizing R&D investments. You prototype cheaply to get to a minimum viable product, but if you stop there, you’re in trouble. You have to reinvest, constantly.
Lessons from Silicon Valley are even likelier to be misapplied in government than in media. Outside experts always groan that government institutions are running outdated systems that still rely on floppy disks, and that this is a function of some combination of government waste, idiocy and ubiquitous Luddite-ism. But a more logical explanation is that systems upgrades require appropriations, many of which have been gleefully slashed by Congress. There’s also the problem of government pay, and the fact that the private sector has financial resources that the government does not. Is it reasonable to expect speedy, high-quality upgrades when engineers are making $90,000 a year and implementations are often contracted out to the lowest bidder?
[Trump says his budget will make government lean. It’s really a scam.]
Image result for Elaine Kamarck, who worked for Vice President Al Gore
The irrelevance of private-sector nostrums is likely to haunt Kushner’s new initiative. “They’re all outsiders and nobody knows anything about the government,” says Elaine Kamarck, who worked for Vice President Al Gore when the Clinton administration sought to reinvent government 25 years ago and who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “It will take these people a year just to figure out what they’re doing.” There are many government functions that have no analog in the private sector, she pointed out, like maintaining a nuclear arsenal.
The Clinton administration’s efforts had some success, Kamarck said, because Gore’s group was staffed primarily by government people and civil servants who worked in concert with private-sector experts. “They also have to staff the government,” she said, pointing to the Trump administration’s failure to fill hundreds of crucial positions so far, leaving any ideas that the new organization produces without a government to execute them.
* * *
Kushner’s claim to business knowledge, beyond admiring Silicon Valley, boils down to his work for his family’s commercial real estate company, which is hardly comparable to a government institution. And if industry dynamics are not transitive across the board, expertise isn’t, either.
On that count, I don’t even know how to quantify Kushner’s expertise, anyway. Yes, he ran the company — which he inherited, not uncommon in New York’s dynastic, insular real estate world. But he was sure he had the goods. When I worked for him, I didn’t think he had a realistic view of his own capabilities since, like his father-in-law, he seemed to view his wealth and its concomitant accoutrements as rewards for his personal success in business, and not something he would have had in any case. To me, he appeared to view his position and net worth as the products of an essentially meritocratic process.
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Yet when Kushner Co. bought 666 5th Avenue for $1.8 billion in 2007, it was the largest transaction for a commercial real estate building in Manhattan’s history. Had the financing gone south, as it nearly did, it probably would have destroyed the family’s fortune. The building is heavily in debt now and in need of new investors to let Vornado, a real estate firm that owns 49.5 percent of it, get out; discussions with Chinese insurance giant Anbang fell apart this past week.
Is this good dealmaking? I don’t know. If I were to assume any expertise I have is transitive to commercial real estate, I might argue that Kushner Co. overpaid for the building in the first place and overleveraged itself. But I also know what I don’t know, and I don’t make a living using vast amounts of debt to buy Class A office buildings in New York, so I will defer to people who do to opine. You could construe my evaluation as a reasonable observation by an outsider with a set of “fresh eyes,” but you’d be nuts to hand me a billion-dollar commercial real estate company because of it.
When it became clear in 2012 that Kushner was conflating running lean with starvation, I submitted my resignation and left the Observer mostly on good terms with him, but I was disappointed. The company president resigned a few weeks later. Kushner eventually filled our positions with a family friend and his brother-in-law, the latter of whom had no media experience. He wanted outsiders to run the business — but loyal, compliant outsiders.
A few days after Trump won the election, Kushner folded the now attenuated print newspaper and subsequently announced that the Observer, in its digital incarnation, was for sale. He probably would refer to it as a “lean” operation. I would say in his zeal to trim the fat, he began eliminating muscle and hacked into a few bones. I realize also, in retrospect, that he may never have intended to grow it or improve it. It was for him, in essence, another vanity object — like the beautiful, expensive desktop computer he used as a monitor.
I worry that this new office will be more of the same: a vanity project, one that exists primarily to put Kushner in the same room with people he admires whom he wouldn’t have had access to before, glossing government agencies in the process with a thin veneer of what appears to be capitalism but is really just nihilistic cost-cutting designed to project the optics of efficiency. If the outside experts have good advice, it will be heeded only where it reinforces what the administration would do anyway. And anyone who volunteers to carry out the administration’s agenda may be handed wholesale control of an area of government where their domain expertise isn’t just low, but nonexistent.

But I would like to be a fly on the wall when Kushner expresses his feelings to Tim Cook about the Macintosh operating system.
Elizabeth Spiers was the founding editor of Gawker and former editor-in-chief of the New York Observer.