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Are Ivanka and Jared getting richer due to the Trump presidency?

Hey Mary!

They absolutely are! Not only Ivanka and Jared but Don Jr and Eric Busey as well…

Ivanka and Jared Kushner, both of whom hold senior positions in the administration and whose companies and investment portfolios netted them anywhere between $29 million and $135 million last year, per their financial disclosure forms. Here are some of the highlights of when the family’s business intertwining with government affairs constituted the “appearance of impropriety” and “conflict of interest.”

The real estate sales

Days before his inauguration in 2016, Donald Trump announced that he had given “complete and total” control of the Trump Organization to Don Jr. and Eric. In doing so, he dismissed critics who called on him to place his assets in a blind trust, arguing that transferring control to immediate family was sufficient to address any conflict-of-interest concerns. “No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office,” he promised.

Since then, Forbes says, the brothers have sold off more than $100 million worth of Trump Organization real estate. That figure includes a $33 million sale of the company’s stake in a federally subsidized housing complex—a transaction Secretary of House & Urban Development Ben Carson had to approve—and a $3.2 million sale of land in the Dominican Republic last year, which Forbes called “the clearest violation of their father’s pledge to do no new foreign deals while in office.” Taxpayers cover the security costs of each business trip the pair makes—in the first two months of 2017 alone that included $97,830 for a trip to Uruguay, $53,155.25 for a trip to Vancouver, and $16,738.36 for a trip to Dubai, according to NBC News.

In February 2017, the Trump Organization unloaded a $15.8 million Trump Park Avenue penthouse—a home formerly occupied by Jared and Ivanka—to Angela Chen, who runs a consulting firm with ties to Chinese government officials and (allegedly) Chinese military intelligence, says Mother Jones. A Forbes analysis found that this price was 13 percent more than that paid for a comparable unit a year earlier, and that it sold at a time when the building’s other units, on average, were selling for 25 percent less.

The disappearing anti-nepotism laws

When news of Jared and Ivanka’s White House employment broke, observers noted the hirings appeared to be clear violations of federal anti-nepotism laws. Kushner, the heir to a mid-Atlantic real estate empire, had no experience that would qualify him for the many tasks to which his father-in-law would assign him: solving the opioid crisis, handling Middle East peace negotiations, modernizing the federal government, and reforming America’s criminal justice system.

On Inauguration Day, however, the Department of Justice released an opinion concluding that the statute does not apply to White House staff, allowing Kushner’s employment to go forward. When intelligence officials held up his application for a top-secret security clearance—a delay due in part, the New York Times reported, to concerns about Kushner’s foreign business interests—his place in the administration, theoretically, was in jeopardy. His father-in-law stepped in, though, overruling the officials and ordering then-chief of staff John Kelly to issue Kushner a clearance anyway.

Ivanka’s résumé was similarly thin for someone taking on a senior West Wing position—a fashion designer, Trump Organization executive, and sometimes-judge on The Apprentice. She also experienced delays in her attempts to obtain a security clearance, and she was also the beneficiary of some timely presidential intervention: According to CNN, Trump pressured both Kelly and then White House counsel Don McGahn to make decisions on Ivanka’s clearance “so it did not appear as if he was tainting the process to favor his family.” When Kelly and McGahn refused, Trump went ahead and approved his daughter’s clearance himself.

Weeks before the CNN story broke, Ivanka told ABC News that she and her husband had “absolutely not” received special treatment from her father during the approval process. “The president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance. Zero,” she said.

The intellectual property in China

Both Jared and Ivanka, who took a “formal leave of absence” from her eponymous fashion label to serve in her father’s White House, have taken full advantage of the benefits of their new jobs. In April, on the same day she and Kushner sat next to Chinese president Xi Jinping at a White House state dinner, the Chinese government gave its conditional approval for three trademarks granting Ivanka what the AP called “monopoly rights” to sell Ivanka-branded jewelry, bags, and spa services. China approved two more rounds of trademarks in May and June, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan government watchdog.

In mid-2018, Ivanka shuttered her clothing brand altogether, citing a desire to focus on her work in Washington. However, she has since continued to seek potentially lucrative trademarks in China, leaving open the possibility that she could return to the brand after her time in public service concludes. (“As the daughter of the U.S. President, Ivanka Trump has an initial advantage of publicity,” Chinese designer Yang Mei explained to TIME in 2017.) Last fall, in the midst of her father’s trade war with China and his efforts to strike a new trade agreement between the two global superpowers, she won initial approval for 16 trademarks, and added five more to her portfolio earlier this year.

The free advertising

While the company was still active, Ivanka wasn’t shy about using the spotlight that comes with being the president’s daughter to goose sales of Ivanka-branded apparel and accessories. Journalists received a press release promoting a gold bracelet—starting at $8,800 and up to $10,800—that she wore during a 60 Minutes interview in November 2016. A few months later, Ivanka Trump’s entire line received an enthusiastic on-air endorsement from Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who called the clothing “wonderful” and urged Fox & Friends viewers to “go buy it today.” The White House said it “counseled” Conway in response.

After Ivanka wrapped a speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention where her father officially became the party’s presidential nominee, she tweeted a link inviting followers to “shop Ivanka’s look”: a pink Ivanka-branded dress that retailed for $138. It sold out within hours.

The miraculous Kushner bailout

For years, 666 Fifth Avenue was the most vexing line-item on the Kushner real estate ledger—a Midtown skyscraper purchased for $1.8 billion, most of which the family borrowed, right before the 2008 recession. A mammoth mortgage of about $1.4 billion was due in February of this year, leading to speculation throughout Jared’s time in the West Wing about how, exactly, the Kushner family would come up with the cash. Multiple foreign governments seized on this uncertainty, privately discussing ways to take advantage of his business entanglements and financial difficulties when dealing with the United States, the Washington Post reported.

In April 2017, a real estate firm tied to the Kushner family made a direct appeal to the government of Qatar to invest in the troubled building, The Intercept reported. A month later, when a coalition of Persian Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates organized a blockade of Qatar, Kushner was among its most vocal U.S. supporters. According to NBC News, some Qatari officials believed the White House’s position was retaliation for their government’s decision not to make a deal with Kushner’s family. In the months that followed, Kushner developed a close working relationship with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman—close enough that bin Salman allegedly told confidants that the president’s son-in-law was “in his pocket.”

Fortunately, help for the Kushner family’s financial woes subsequently arrived in the form of Brookfield Asset Management, which acquired a 99-year lease on 666 Fifth Avenue for about $1 billion in April 2018. This miraculous timing allowed the Kushners to pay off its existing mortgage and buy out its partner in the venture, Vornado Realty Trust. The buyer was a semi-familiar face in this drama: One of Brookfield Asset Management’s largest investors is the government of Qatar. Both Brookfield and Qatar claimed that Qatar had no advance warning that its money would be bailing out the president’s son-in-law.

The real estate investments

In June, The Guardian reported that Cadre, a real estate investment company owned in part by Kushner, has taken in some $90 million in offshore funding via an ominously-described “opaque offshore vehicle” in the Cayman Islands since he joined the White House. Some of the money, the Guardian says, came from other tax shelters; some of it came from unidentified sources in—you guessed it—Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, as my colleague Luke Darby noted at the time, although Kushner has purportedly recused himself from decisions affecting real estate policy, Ivanka has done no such thing. The president’s daughter was instrumental in the effort to include in the 2017 tax reform bill an “Opportunity Zones” program, which extends lucrative tax breaks to rich people who invest capital in designated less-developed areas. According to the AP, Cadre is raising funds from investors to build Opportunity Zone projects, and the Kushner family already owns at least 13 properties in opportunity zones that could qualify for special tax treatment.

So yes Mary, it is safe to say that Ivanka and Jared have profited from their position in the White House to substantially enrich themselves…

Sources: everyone linked in the text and How Donald Trump’s Kids Have Profited Off Their Dad’s Presidency