On May 8, Politico reports that Qatar — which has been in a foreign relations standstill with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates for a year — is looking to acquire a major stake in Newsmax, a conservative news company owned by Trump friend Chris Ruddy.
A week later, around May 17, reports come out that a company owned in part by the Qatari government is in talks to completely save Jared Kushner from a $1.4 billion mortgage he owes on 666 Fifth Avenue in Chicago, what we like to call “the Kushner building.”
The company, Brookfield Asset Management, reaches a final deal with the Kushners in August. Brookfield signs a 99-year lease on the building for over $1 billion, paid upfront. This allows the Kushners to pay back most of the $1.4 billion they owe on the building.
It’s unclear if Qatar ever reached a deal with Newsmax, but the company spends the remainder of 2018 publishing only positive takes when Qatar is mentioned. As of November 2020, the company is losing money every year, and Chris Ruddy will not reveal who is keeping Newsmax afloat. However, the company can afford to include former Trump officials and advisers like Steve Bannon and Sean Spicer on its payroll.
The Kushners began lobbying Qatari investor and former prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to re-finance the property in 2015. Sheikh Hamad is the brother of Qatar’s emir, who Jared is meeting with the week we added this file. Jared met with him as recently as December 2016 in Trump Tower. Talks with Jassim al-Thani fell through, and the Kushners began looking for other overseas investors with their focus still on Qatar.
After an April 2017 meeting between Charles Kushner and Qatar’s finance minister, Ali Sharif Al Emadi, Jared and the White House voiced support for the Saudi and UAE blockade against Qatar.
In November 2017, a Qatari-funded investment group Apollo Global Management gave the Kushners a loan of $184 million to refinance the building, triple the average amount the company has given to refinance other properties.
News of Brookfield Asset Management’s negotiations on the Kushner building breaks only a few weeks after Trump and Mike Pompeo pressured Saudi Arabia and UAE to end the blockade against Qatar.
With more evidence of the events that led to Brookfield’s negotiations with the Kushners, the Kushner relationship with Qatar could prove to be the original “quid pro quo” story two years before Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine until they did him “a favor.”