I can’t believe people don’t spend more time talking about the 666 Fifth Avenue bribe (alleged). It’s one of the most perplexing things to me in US politics. The general impression seems to be that it’s kind of funny?! The President’s son-in-law got an absurd bail out on a losing real estate deal, to the tune of over a billion dollars, and the consequences appear to be nil. When he was trying to get the money from China it was rightly condemned, but now that he got the money from Qatar, through Canada, it’s somehow OK? It’s just a thing that happened? As I point out in today’s video, I think Joe Biden and the political culture that he exemplifies has a lot to do with this…
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. From the very beginning of the Trump administration It has been engaged in shocking levels of corruption. The lines between the White House and Trump’s family businesses are paper thin.
For the past three years, Trump’s businesses, and most importantly Trump’s children have been enriching themselves directly off of his presidency. Lobbyists who want his favor organize events at his hotels. The Saudi government in particular has dropped massive amounts of money on the Trump family’s new york and DC properties.
I expected all of this. What I did not expect was how little attention would be paid. Some of the basic reporting has been done. We know what’s going on, and it’s very straightforwardly illegal and even directly unconstitutional. There’s a clause in the constitution that explicitly says this is not OK. Yet on CNN, and even in impeachment proceedings, nobody is talking about this straightforward bribery. We are all supposed to focus on the complicated, difficult to prove Russia stuff that the intelligence community loves, leaving a bunch of really easy wins on the table. Like, have you even heard of Jared Kushner’s billion dollar bribe?
In 2007, Donald Trumps son in law made what is widely regarded as one of the worst real estate deals in New York City history. He paid way too much for 666 fifth Avenue, a not very impressive building, and to nobody’s surprise, he failed to make any money off of it. A 1.4 billion dollar mortgage payment was due in 2019, and there was a distinct chance that it would bankrupt the Kushner real estate empire. But in August of 2018, Brookfield properties swept in and saved the day, taking out a 99 year lease on this shitty overpriced building, paying 1.3 billion dollars up front, and saving the Kushner family business. Guess who owns a significant chunk of Brookfield Properties? The Qatari sovereign wealth fund. It’s possible that this bribe is the reason Saudi Arabia was not allowed to invade Qatar. It’s also possible though not likely that the Qatari government’s denial that they were aware of the details is true. We dont know, because there has been no serious government investigation of what could very well be a billion dollar bribe. Throughout the Trump administration I have wondered: Why are we letting these people get away with This?
Well now we know. The answer is Joe Biden. Now that the Clintons are gone we can finally talk about sexual harassment as a culture. The hope was that we could finally talk about family political corruption more seriously as well. Well that turns out to not be true, because both Biden’s son and his brother have built their careers on Joe Biden’s political career. Now let’s be clear. No illegal activity has been proven. I doubt it will be. But no honest person can see what has gone on here as anything other than corruption.
There are many great profiles of the Biden family’s nepotism and shady business deals, and I would urge you to read them, but people are focusing on two matters in particular. Republicans are doing the Bidens a favor by telling ridiculously exaggerated versions of these stories. No Biden did not get a Ukrainianprosecutor fired to help his son, and no the Chinese government did not give the Biden family 1.5 billion dollars. But Hunter Biden was absolutely being paid to do nothing on the board of a Ukrainian oil company because he was the Vice President’s son. This active drug addict was absolutely doing private equity deals in China, for no other reason than his last name. This isn’t Trump level criminality, but it remains very very gross.
Comparing the Trump family’s crimes to the Biden family’s corruption is like comparing a serial bank robber to a shoplifter. But would you hire a shoplifter to prosecute a bank robber? What the Biden’s have done is disturbingly common in Washington, DC and that’s the problem. That’s why Washington DC tends to leave Trump family alone. No one in Congress wants what they have done for their own kids and spouses to be scrutinized. If Biden gets the Democratic nomination then Trump’s horrific law breaking corruption won’t be discussed seriously in the 2020 election. That would be a huge missed opportunity, because the other remaining Democratic nominees are surprisingly clean.
Andrew Yang has never had a political job to abuse. Buttigieg is too young to have done much with his life, is married to an academic, and doesn’t even have kids to do nepotism with yet. Klobuchar is married to an academic, and while it seems like her 20something daughter is getting into politics, it’s in New York, far away from her mom’s midwest power base. Warren is also married to an academic and her kids are fairly low profile. I bet we will learn something ethically dubious involving help for Warren’s businesswoman daughter this year, but it will be a stretch, and it won’t involve cocaine or Ukraine, that’s for sure. The Clintons and the Republicans have been trying for years to gin up a controversy around Bernie’s wife, Jane O’meara Sanders, and a university she failed to save, without much success. Sanders has also pointedly refused to support his son’s attempts at a political career. Any of these folks could make a vastly more credible contrast to Trump family corruption than Joe Biden.
I honestly feel for Uncle Joe here. There is no more natural instinct than doing what you can for your kids and family. It’s understandable that people with power engage in nepotism. But not everybody does. What Biden’s family has done here is definitely corrupt, even though it’s probably not illegal. Almost everybody else in the Democratic primary is better positioned to lead an anti-corruption fight against Donald Trump. In this sense, Joe Biden is actually the least electable Democratic candidate.
Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and come back next time when I will issue my prediction for the 2020 election. Thanks.