Graham rips Comey for misleading Congress – YouTube

(14) Graham rips Comey for misleading Congress – YouTube

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Published on May 28, 2017

In an exclusive interview with Dana Bash on State of the Union, Senator Lindsey Graham attacks former FBI Director Comey for misleading Congress

The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s rebirth as a high-tech center

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There’s “Yard Work” going on at a former Navy installation not too far from here. Jim Axelrod gives us a tour:

It’s a familiar site across America: A once-booming industrial center now mired in decay. The Brooklyn Navy Yard knows the story well. Nothing boomed louder in the first half of the 20th century: its bustling docks were the backdrop for the opening of “On The Town.”

Established in 1801, the Yard churned out fleets of military ships over the next 150 years, providing 70,000 jobs during World War II.

But when the war ended, business dried up.  Within a few decades, the Brookyn Navy Yard had taken its place among the rusting and rotting, until it finally closed in 1966.

David Belt had a different ending in mind.

He’s one of the developers of New Lab, an 84,000-square-foot hub for high-tech start-ups housed in what used to be the grease and grime of a heavy machine shop.

“People saw this as just, like, a rusted-out shell,” Belt said. “When I came into this building, it was mind-blowing.”  He saw the potential immediately.

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New Lab is a $35 million project. Eighty companies and 400 people work here.

“We want to make sure that they have a level of optimism and humanism in the work that they’re doing so that they’re making the world better,” said Belt.

Venture capitalists have poured $250 million into it. And there is a lot going on…

Take vertical farming at Farmshelf, a business that grows plants and produce without any soil.

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Or Waverly Labs‘ earpiece that translates 30 foreign languages in real time.

And then there are Voltaic Systems‘ solar panel backpacks that charge cell phones as you walk.

Sean Petterson’s company, StrongArm Technologies, makes support braces that also track the movement of manual laborers to prevent injuries.

“We’re creating a better future for the industrial athletes – [guys] who’ll deliver the packages to your door, that’ll pave your roads, that’ll build the buildings that we’re in,” Petterson said.

He sold 5,000 vests last year, expects to sell 12,000 this year, and is doing business with 20 of the 100 largest employers in the country.

Jessica Banks, of RockPaperRobot, designs folding chairs for space-challenged city dwellings. An MIT grad, she thrives on the energy here.  “When you have a network and a community of people that you can actually work with, that gets you ahead,” she said of the New Lab space.

CBS News

All the millennial churn even works for Steve Gorevan, an old-school inventor whose company, Honeybee Robotics, makes devices that help Mars rovers pick up and analyze soil samples.

“I don’t think there’s anyone who works in any one of these companies who’s 62 like I am,” he said.

“Do you like being the senior statesman?”Axelrod asked.

“Nope! Not at all!” he laughed.

Actually, Gorevan loves it. “Oh, it’s a major shot in the arm for my business,” he said.

The New Lab companies are valued at nearly a billion dollars — not a bad turnaround for this once-abandoned site.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard … where an entirely new generation is coming to do good, and do well.

CBS News


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FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos: Survey: Most Americans confused about what foods are healthy

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From: FoxNewsChannel
Duration: 03:28

Dr. Jen Caudle provides some clarity

FoxNewsChannel’s YouTube Videos

Trump considers major changes amid escalating Russia crisis

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President Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a “war room” within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

Following Trump’s return to Washington on Saturday night from a nine-day foreign trip that provided a bit of a respite from the controversy back home, the White House plans to far more aggressively combat the cascading revelations about contacts between Trump associates, including Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Russia.

White House officials are also trying to find ways to revive Trump’s stalled policy agenda in Congress and to more broadly overhaul the way the White House communicates with the public.

That includes proposals for more travel and campaign-style rallies throughout the country so that Trump can speak directly to his supporters, as well as changes in the pace and nature of news briefings, likely including a diminished role for embattled White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

While much remained fluid Saturday, the beefed-up operation could include the return of some of Trump’s more combative campaign aides, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was fired nearly a year ago, and former deputy campaign manager David N. Bossie, who made his name in politics by investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton for two decades. Both of them have already been part of ongoing discussions about how to build a “war room,” which have been led in part by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.

Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret channel with Kremlin

Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in December that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, asked him about setting up a communications channel between the transition team and the Kremlin using Russian facilities in the United States. Why did Jared Kushner ask to set up a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin? (Video: Alice Li,McKenna Ewen/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

(Alice Li,McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)

Other Trump players who have drifted from his orbit in recent months, such as Sam Nunberg, are also being courted to play more active roles, either officially joining the White House or in an outside capacity, working through confidants of the president.

“Go to the mattresses,” a line from “The Godfather” film about turning to tough mercenaries during troubled times, has circulated among Trump’s friends, according to two people close to the “war room” discussions.

White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has been involved in related talks, including with prominent Trump backers outside Washington and on Capitol Hill, and has contacted people from Trump’s campaign network, asking them to be more involved in supporting the president, according to three GOP consultants working with the White House.

Meanwhile, White House counsel Donald McGahn is mulling expanding his office, and an outside legal team led by Marc E. Kasowitz is readying to meet with Trump and guide him, including on whether he should continue to comment on the Russia probes on Twitter.

Kushner has played an active role in the effort to rethink and rearrange the communications team, improve the White House’s surrogate operation, and develop an internal group to combat the influx of negative stories and revelations over the FBI’s Russia probe, said someone with knowledge of the coming changes.

“The bottom line is they need fresh legs; they need more legs,” said Barry Bennett, who served as a political adviser to Trump during the general election. “They’re in full-scale war, and they’re thinly staffed.”

As Trump has participated in meetings with world leaders in recent days, senior aides — including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon and Kushner — have met in the White House to discuss a potential reshuffle.

Kushner’s own role has emerged as a particularly sensitive topic of discussion within the White House, as his actions have come under increasing scrutiny in the FBI investigation of Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.

The Washington Post reported Friday night that Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring.

Some White House aides have discreetly discussed among one another whether Kushner should play a lesser role — or even take a leave — at least until the Russia-related issues calm, but they have been reluctant to discuss that view with Kushner himself, and Kushner’s network of allies within the West Wing has rallied behind him.

Those close to Kushner said he has no plans to take a reduced role, though people who have spoken to him say that he is increasingly weary of the nonstop frenzy.

In recent weeks, the White House also brought on Josh Raffel as a spokesman to handle many of the issues in Kushner’s portfolio; Raffel works out of a shared office in the West Wing, although he also has space in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

During a lunch Friday, Kushner and Priebus talked about how Trump’s foreign trip had gone and began outlining what is coming up in the weeks ahead. Earlier in the day in Kushner’s office, the two briefly discussed the stories involving Kushner and Russia.

The president’s lawyers have urged Trump not to author adversarial Twitter messages or make off-the-cuff comments about the Russia probe, explaining that those utterances could further hurt him if it seems as if he’s trying to obstruct the investigation.

Underscoring the uncertainty of what lies ahead, some Trump associates said there have been conversations about dispatching Priebus to serve as ambassador to Greece — his mother is of Greek descent — as a face-saving way to remove him from the White House. A White House spokeswoman strongly denied that possibility Saturday.

The president has expressed frustration — both publicly and privately — with his communications team, ahead of the expected overhaul.

Though no final decisions have been made, one option being discussed is having Spicer — who has been parodied on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” — take a more behind-the-scenes role and give up his daily, on-camera briefings.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy White House press secretary, is being considered as a replacement behind the lectern. White House aides have also talked about having a rotating cast of staff brief the media, a group that could include officials such as national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Having several aides share the briefing responsibilities could help prevent Trump — who has a notoriously short attention span — from growing bored or angry with any one staffer.

The White House has already been testing this strategy, sending Spicer to the podium along with another top staffer to talk about the news of the day: Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney on budget issues, for instance, or McMaster on questions of national security.

On Trump’s foreign tour, Spicer conducted only one briefing, an informal gaggle with the small, traveling press pool. Otherwise, he served more as an emcee, introducing other senior administration officials at more formal briefings.

On Saturday, it was Gary Cohn, the National Economic Council director, and McMaster who headlined the U.S. news conference at the conclusion of the Group of Seven summit in Taormina, Italy. Spicer introduced them and then retired to the corner of the room to watch McMaster and Cohn parry questions from journalists.

The episode highlighted how difficult it is to drive Trump’s agenda, with Russia so prominently in the news. The briefing grew testy after several questions related to Kushner’s activities were posed to McMaster, who largely deflected them.

The expected revamp in White House operations comes at a key juncture in Trump’s presidency, as his job approval ratings continue to sag and he presses for progress on several marquee campaign promises — including revamping the Affordable Care Act and tax restructuring — before Congress takes its August recess.

A White House aide said Saturday that Trump is also considering pushing more modest initiatives in Congress that would stand a better chance of quick passage.

The aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more freely, said that could include measures on immigration or infrastructure-related initiatives that are well liked by most Republicans.

“They need accomplishments on issues that affect jobs,” said one Trump adviser. “If the White House and Congress have nothing in hand to tout by this summer, members of Congress are going to come back after their August recess freaking out.”

Conversations about what some are calling a “war room” have focused on a model similar to what emerged during President Bill Clinton’s tenure to cope with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and other crises. Clinton pulled together a team of lawyers and communication and political aides to deal with those issues apart from the regular White House structure, with the aim of letting other business proceed as normally as possible.

Aides and allies of Trump say they have come to the realization that unflattering stories about Russia will be part of the daily conversation for the foreseeable future and acknowledge that the White House has been ill-equipped to handle them.

Christopher Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend, said the White House has been caught flat-footed on many of the Russia stories.

“Because they did not believe there’s anything to it, they’re playing catch-up to get their side of the story out,” Ruddy said.

“At first, I thought the president was fretting too much about this,” said Ruddy, who is chief executive of Newsmax Media and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. “But it keeps growing like a bad fungus, even though there’s nothing there.”

“The deep state and the swamp and many in the media are never going to let up,” added Jason Miller, who served as Trump’s senior communications adviser during the campaign and remains close to the White House. He is not expected to come back in a formal role.

The White House has also been pushing the Republican National Committee to play a more active role in defending the president.

Members of the Trump family outside of the White House have also been ramping up their engagement in the president’s political operation, eager to contribute and guide the party.

On Thursday, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Eric’s wife, Lara Trump, participated in a two-hour meeting at the RNC headquarters in Washington, according to three people familiar with the session who were not authorized to speak publicly.

RNC spokesman Ryan Mahoney declined to address the specifics of the meeting but said the RNC is stepping up efforts to bolster Trump.

“The RNC’s role is to support the president,” he said. “We’re focused on creating as much content as possible to ensure we’re messaging effectively and doing so quickly in order to promote and defend this administration. It’s our top priority.”

Aides say they think President Trump’s agenda will be boosted by making more targeted appearances around the country to tout it.

And several advisers are pushing Trump to do more of the campaign-style rallies like the one he had planned in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Thursday night. It has since been postponed but will be rescheduled soon, according to Trump’s campaign.

Being outside of Washington among his supporters, particularly in a state he won last year, energizes Trump and provides a way for him to communicate without the filter of the media, his advisers say.

“The conventional ways of communicating are not working for them,” one adviser said, adding that Trump should consider Facebook Live sessions and get out on the road “as frequently as possible.”

“They have to get the campaign brand back,” the adviser said.

Several Trump advisers cited the president’s recent interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, in which Trump made clear it was his idea to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, as the kind of thing to avoid going forward.

“I hope he’ll travel more and do these rallies once a week,” Bennett said. “You get to say whatever you want to say, and you don’t have to take questions.”

As the White House tried to bolster its operations, some staffers who once fell out of favor with Trump have been brought back into conversations.

Lewandowski, who was fired from the campaign amid serious clashes with Kushner and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, has also been suggested as an effective messenger — either from inside the administration or from his current perch outside — to push back on the Russia controversy.

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Nunberg, who was fired by the Trump campaign in 2015 and has been hostile to Lewandowski since, is now working with Ruddy. At a recent breakfast in Washington with Ruddy, Lewandowski, and Alexandra Preate, a close ally of Bannon, the trio discussed whether Lewandowski and Nunberg could put aside their differences to again rally behind Trump, according to three people familiar with the conversation.

Aides to Trump say they are pleased with both the substance and the optics of his nine-day foreign trip, the first time he has traveled abroad as president, and hope that it could generate momentum for his agenda back home. Others aren’t so sure.

“He was given the chance to look presidential and change the pictures on our television screens,” said Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University. “But it will be harder for him to manage news back at home than abroad. … The worries he had when he left have not gone away. They’ve only gotten worse.”

Philip Rucker in Italy contributed to this report.

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Trump Returns to Crisis Over Kushner as White House Tries to Contain It

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Still, there are signs that he is tiring of the nonstop combat and the damage to his reputation. He has told friends that he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have made no long-term commitment to remain by Mr. Trump’s side, saying they would review every six months whether to return to private life in New York.

Mr. Kushner’s troubles are only one facet of the crisis. Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, and Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, also dropped off Mr. Trump’s trip early, in part to return to deal with the political furor over the Russia investigations and the president’s decision to fire James B. Comey as F.B.I. director.

The White House was trying to figure out how to respond to reports that Mr. Kushner had spoken in December with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, about establishing a secret channel between his father-in-law’s transition team and Moscow to discuss the war in Syria and other issues. The Washington Post first reported on the suggestion on Friday, and three people informed about it confirmed it to The New York Times.

The discussion took place at Trump Tower at a meeting that also included Michael T. Flynn, who served briefly as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser until being forced out when it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about a separate telephone conversation he had with Mr. Kislyak. It was unclear who first proposed the secret communications channel, but the idea was for Mr. Flynn to speak directly with a Russian military official. The channel was never set up.

As reports emerged about investigators’ focus on Mr. Kushner, he and Ms. Trump discussed the possibility of having Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, issue a statement denying that Mr. McGahn had been contacted by federal officials about Mr. Kushner. Mr. McGahn, who has been increasingly uneasy in his role since Mr. Trump ignored his advice to delay Mr. Comey’s dismissal, said he was not the person to write such a statement, suggesting that doing so would create a precedent requiring a response to each new report. Mr. Kushner’s private lawyer issued a statement instead.

Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner have complained privately about what he views as an unfair level of scrutiny of his actions. He has dismissed the attention on him as a reflection of his father-in-law’s unconventional approach to diplomacy and inexperience in government, rather than of anything nefarious he has done. People close to Mr. Kushner, who had lunch with Mr. Priebus on Friday and who projected an air of calm, were adamant that he was preparing for a long fight and not an exit from the White House.

The reports about Mr. Kushner dominated an end-of-trip briefing for reporters in Taormina, Italy, where Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the president’s national security adviser, and Gary D. Cohn, his top economic adviser, declined to comment specifically on Mr. Kushner but sought to play down the significance of the disclosures.

“We have back-channel communications with any number of countries,” General McMaster said. “So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner. It doesn’t predispose you to any kind of content in that conversation.”

He did not say whether he was comfortable with the idea of a private citizen, as Mr. Kushner was at the time, opening such a back channel.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Trump’s advisers were working to create a crisis-control communications operation within the White House to separate the Russia investigations and related scandals from the administration’s day-to-day themes and the work of governing, according to several people familiar with their plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the details of a still-evolving strategy.

The goal, these people said, is to give Mr. Trump more outlets for communicating his message in an unvarnished way, while curbing opportunities for aides to be confronted publicly with damaging developments or unflattering story lines.

White House aides were trying to assemble a powerhouse outside legal team that they hoped would include seasoned Washington lawyers of the stature of Paul D. Clement, Theodore Olson or Brendan Sullivan, and they planned to introduce some of them to Mr. Trump as soon as this weekend. More lawyers could also be hired onto the White House staff to help Mr. McGahn.

The approach is modeled on the war room used by President Bill Clinton during various inquiries, including one that led to his impeachment for lying under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Mr. Clinton retained a private legal team and established a separate office to handle questions about investigations, so that the White House could preserve the image of governing and keep its primary focus on the president’s broader message.

Aides are talking about bringing Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, and David Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager, onto the White House staff to manage the war room.

Under the evolving scenario, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would take a diminished public role, with daily on-camera briefings replaced by more limited interactions with journalists, while Mr. Trump would seize more opportunities to communicate directly with his core supporters through campaign rallies, social media appearances such as Facebook Live videos, and interviews with friendly news organizations.

The president, who has more than 30 million followers on Twitter, has been told by his lawyers to limit his posts. Each one, they argue privately, could be used as evidence in a legal case against him, and the president went through his entire overseas trip without posting a single incendiary message.

Among those most adamant about limiting Mr. Trump’s access to the news media was Mr. Kushner, who has been critical internally of the White House press operation and has sought to marginalize Mr. Spicer, whom he views as too undisciplined to control the president’s message. Mr. Kushner has also favored creating a rapid-response team to counter reports like the ones that emerged on Friday.

In a move that many in the West Wing viewed as emblematic of his attempt to wrest control of communications from Mr. Spicer and Mr. Priebus, Mr. Kushner displaced an operations official from the office across the hall from his own and installed his spokesman, Josh Raffel, in his place, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric, who now run the family business, have grown frustrated by the lack of a solid support system or effective surrogate operation to combat the spate of negative reports, according to three people who have spoken with them. The sons spent time on Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters, which was first reported by The Post. They also previously had a discussion with at least one Republican operative about beefing up communications at the campaign committee.

Republican strategists said it was vital for Mr. Trump to focus on advancing a legislative agenda to show voters that the administration could deliver policy changes and allay lawmakers’ simmering fears that the president’s troubles could damage their re-election chances.

“What they need to do is crank up the legislative side of things and say, O.K., that’s going on, and Trump’s going to be Trump, but meanwhile, they’re actually working to get some kind of health care plan through the Senate, some kind of tax reform, and do what they promised they would,” said Rich Galen, a top adviser to Newt Gingrich when he was the House speaker during Mr. Clinton’s tenure.

Yet Mr. Trump’s push to revamp health care has faltered in Congress, and the White House has yet to present a detailed plan for his promised tax cuts.

Joel Johnson, who was a top adviser to Mr. Clinton, said the traditional options available to a besieged president returning from overseas would be delivering a major speech, shaking up his staff and getting out on the road. But he said it was unclear whether Mr. Trump could do any of those things effectively enough to recapture control of his narrative.

“You’re always looking for a reset button and how do we change the conversation,” Mr. Johnson said. “I wouldn’t want to be running the program down there right now. I don’t know where they go.”

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· · · · ·

A high-stakes gamble: How Jared Kushner reacted to previous crises

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NEW YORK — Jared Kushner had barely survived a fight to save his family’s real estate empire.

Taking charge of the business after his father went to prison, Kushner, 25 at the time, paid $1.8 billion in 2007 for the nation’s most expensive office building. Then the market went south, the debts piled up, and Kushner spent years pushing banks to renegotiate the loans.

But after one disgruntled lender had tried to block him, Kushner had an unusual weapon at his disposal: He owned a newspaper.

Kushner, who had purchased the New York Observer in 2006, walked into his editor’s office and suggested a story exposing potentially embarrassing details about the uncooperative lender.

“I could tell he was angry at the guy,” said the editor, Elizabeth Spiers, who resigned in 2012. Only after months of dead-end reporting did Kushner finally stop asking for the story, she said. That followed a separate incident in which Kushner wanted a “hit job” on another foe, a second Observer editor told The Washington Post.

What Jared Kushner still owns

Kushner’s career in the cutthroat world of New York real estate shows how he dealt with his worst business crisis, averting catastrophe through connections, savvy negotiation and hardball tactics that left enemies in his wake. Kushner was not reticent to strike back against those he said had crossed him.

Now, as a powerful senior White House adviser, Kushner faces a new crisis that risks not only his own reputation but ultimately, the success of his father-in-law President Trump, who has entrusted him with responsibilities ranging from Middle East diplomacy to reinventing the federal government.

A federal investigation has focused on Kushner’s secret meetings with Russians during and after Trump’s 2016 campaign. The Post reported Friday that Kushner discussed with the Russian ambassador the possibility of establishing back-channel communications with the Kremlin, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Kushner’s attorneys have said he will cooperate with the federal investigation and answer questions from a special counsel examining allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, a probe that could also examine financial connections Trump advisers may have had with Russia. Kushner declined comment.

Kushner’s allies said his experience in New York’s aggressive business culture prepared him to manage crises and tackle any problem Trump gives him to solve.

But running a real estate company, where business deals and corporate rivalries stem from the singular goal of turning the biggest profits, is far different from navigating the vast federal government or mastering the tricky politics of Washington and complexities of overseas diplomacy.

Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret channel with Kremlin

Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in December that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, asked him about setting up a communications channel between the transition team and the Kremlin using Russian facilities in the United States. Why did Jared Kushner ask to set up a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin? (Video: Alice Li,McKenna Ewen/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

(Alice Li,McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)

Trump has relied on Kushner as the president makes his own transition from the business world. And just as Trump has struggled to adapt, Kushner is adjusting with the lessons of the past decade in mind, saying privately that he sees a parallel between his old and new careers, believing both are blood sports.

***

Kushner’s real estate career began with a family trauma. His father, Charles, a major Democratic Party donor whose company then focused on modest apartment buildings in New Jersey, was convicted in 2005 of federal tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations, including some in Jared Kushner’s name.

The prosecutor was then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who said the elder Kushner had not taken responsibility for his “vile and heinous acts.” (Christie’s prosecution scarred the family, Kushner associates told The Post. The wound reopened during the Trump campaign, when White House officials said the younger Kushner helped quash consideration of Christie for an administration role). Christie did not respond to a request for comment.

Jared Kushner was studying law at New York University as the case generated wide attention because of its scandalous details. Charles Kushner had arranged to secretly videotape his brother-in-law meeting with a prostitute, allegedly hoping to coerce relatives to stop cooperating with federal authorities. The judge called it an act of vengeance.

Kushner told New York magazine in 2009 that his father arranged for the sex tape as a warning to warring family members who he said were trying to hurt him.

“Was it the right thing to do? At the end of the day, it was a function of saying, ‘You’re trying to make my life miserable. Well, I’m doing the same,’ ” Kushner said.

With his father incarcerated in Alabama, barred from making business deals, Jared Kushner, the eldest son, took over the empire. It had 1,000 employees and owned more than 25,000 apartments. The family’s reputation was in tatters.

“A lot of their friends and business colleagues just disappeared,” said Arthur J. Mirante II, a business consultant who advised the Kushners.

Kushner went to Alabama every week to consult his father. He came up with two risky moves. In 2006, he bought an unprofitable newspaper, the New York Observer, for a reported $10 million. The newspaper, a broadsheet printed on pink paper, aggressively covered New York business and politics. It had been especially hard on real estate titan Donald Trump, calling him the “prince of swine,” according to former columnist Michael Thomas.

Kushner’s newspaper ownership gave him entree to the city’s powerful. Kushner by then had relocated the company to Manhattan, and he added to his allure by announcing in January 2007 a deal that shocked many real estate analysts.

He agreed to pay $1.8 billion for a 41-story office building at 666 Fifth Ave., only blocks from Trump Tower, the highest price paid at the time for a U.S. office building. Kushner called it “a great acquisition,” but some real estate veterans saw it as an act of hubris. Income projections suggested that Kushner had vastly overpaid — and that was months before the Great Recession further softened the market.

Within three years, Kushner’s project was drowning. A 2010 appraisal placed its value at $820 million, about half of what he paid, and well below his debt to banks, according to financial records. As the recession set in, office rents plunged, and his building’s occupancy rate dropped from nearly full to 77 percent in 2011, according to lending documents.

Bankers turned to LNR, a Florida firm that handles distressed real estate debt as a precursor to possible foreclosure. LNR represented the banks in their effort to collect Kushner’s obligations.

That created extraordinary pressure on Kushner to negotiate with LNR to reduce his debt burden. But that, in turn, meant some banks and investors might be paid less than expected. A battle began between Kushner and the companies that helped finance his risky purchase. LNR declined comment.

One of the biggest debt holders was Colony Capital, which owned $72.2 million, according to analysts’ estimates. The company was run by Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a Trump friend. Barrack had worked for an oil baron who sold the iconic Plaza Hotel to Trump for $410 million, which Trump later acknowledged was too high, eventually forcing him to put the property into bankruptcy. The two men nonetheless remained close; Barrack had a speaking role at the Republican National Convention and headed Trump’s inaugural committee.

Kushner mentioned to his wife, Ivanka Trump — whom he married in 2009 — that Barrack was going after him on the debt. She told him that her father was close to Barrack, and so Donald Trump introduced Kushner to Barrack, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Barrack was concerned, but Kushner argued that lowering his obligation was better than foreclosure. “I’m asking you to make more money for yourself than you’ll make otherwise,” Kushner told Barrack, according to the person familiar with the conversation. Barrack did not respond to a request for comment.

A company run by another Trump associate, Steven Roth, chief executive and chairman of office giant Vornado Realty Trust, bought 49.5 percent of the project and helped run it. Roth is partners with Trump on other buildings and was chosen by the president to run a committee that will recommend how to spend federal money on infrastructure projects. Both Vornado and Roth declined comment.

At the same time, one of Kushner’s most severe challenges was dealing with a New York company called AREA Property Partners, which held $105.4 million of Kushner’s debt, according to industry estimates based on lending documents. Its chief executive, Richard Mack, objected to Kushner’s debt-relief requests. Mack declined comment.

Ultimately, Kushner made a deal with LNR to ease his debt burden and allow him to retain majority control. The agreement allowed Kushner to pay off some loans immediately, lowered his payment rate and extended the deadline on the bulk of the debt for two years, to February 2019. The initial $1.2 billion mortgage was split in two, with $115 million of what he owed subjugated by Kushner’s position so that banks may ultimately have to write it off, according to financial filings.

Such restructurings are not unusual for owners facing extensive real estate debt. But Kushner’s negotiations to protect his family’s investment left some hard feelings. A lender involved in the negotiations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing private conversations, told The Post he was upset because Kushner did little to protect his lenders. The lender said the various renegotiations could cost banks and investors hundreds of millions of dollars compared with what was originally expected.

“They could have taken steps to mitigate the damage,” the lender said.

But Kushner viewed it as a hardball business deal and showed that he was a tough negotiator, according to an individual familiar with his perspective.

Sources familiar with the arrangement said the Kushner family got back most of its $500 million investment.

Kushner divested himself of his interest in 666 Fifth Ave. when he joined the administration, although he kept stakes in about 90 percent of his real estate holdings, valued between $132 million and $407 million. He resigned from the family business and pledged a clear ethical divide. But ethics experts say his remaining business ties — many in partnerships and LLCs that cannot be easily traced — call for fuller disclosure.

His admirers in real estate say Kushner has never made deals in traditional ways, although he is quick to seek counsel.

Sandeep Mathrani, the chief executive of shopping mall giant General Growth Properties, said he has been periodically offering Kushner advice since the young developer asked to meet with him almost a decade ago.

“I think Jared got into the real estate business to redeem the reputation of the Kushner family, and I think he has definitely done that in the New York circles,” Mathrani said.

“Jared was always hungry for creative new ideas and not saying ‘This is the way we’ve done things for generations.’ Which is cool because a lot of people in real estate families, that’s how they behave,” said Asher Abehsera, a Kushner partner in a high-end project under development in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn.

***

Kushner had never shied away from hardball tactics, and as a newspaper owner, he had a media vehicle to spread negative information.

One editor of the Observer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing a private conversation, said Kushner wanted a negative story on a banker who was at odds with the family business. The editor recalled Kushner saying: “We have to do a hit job on this guy. He is a bad guy.”

“I said, ‘Jared, first off, never use the phrase ‘hit job.’ We can’t use that term. And second, there’s no story here,” the editor said.

A similar episode occurred with Spiers, the former editor who said Kushner offered a tip that cast Mack, the lender from AREA Property Partners, in a bad light.

Mainstream media organizations generally try to maintain editorial independence from their owners, so Spiers was concerned that Kushner was hoping to use the paper to punish an antagonist.

Spiers said Kushner urged her to pursue the tip, which included information about Mack’s business affairs. Spiers, who previously had founded the website Gawker, told The Post she had already determined that Kushner seemed to want to use the paper to advance his business interests.

“Jared didn’t buy the paper because he was interested in journalism. He bought the paper because it was a mechanism to gain influence in New York,” Spiers said. “He was angry at the media because he thought the media was partly responsible for his father going to jail.”

She said she told Kushner that “you realize if we did this story, if anything is wrong, even by accident, he has a malice precondition, and Jared didn’t know what I was talking about.” A public official who sues for libel must show that the publication had “actual malice” against the subject of the story.

Spiers gave the tip to two reporters, but they could not substantiate it. Kushner insisted on meeting with the reporters twice and brought in a source to speak with them, according to Foster Kamer, one of the reporters. Still, it could not be confirmed.

Kamer said that Kushner had put him in an improper position.

“To Jared, it was such a benign thing, and to myself, it was just one of the most deeply offensive . . . things that had ever happened to me professionally,” Kamer said.

In the end, the reporters and Spiers convinced Kushner that the tip did not check out, and no story was published.

“I think it took a year off my life to pursue that story,” Spiers said. “Every meeting I had with him, he asked, ‘So how’s that story coming?’ ”

Kushner was asked in March 2016 at a forum how he managed conflicts between his real estate business and the Observer. He brushed off the question.

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“If you don’t want conflicts, just go into your apartment and lock the door, don’t go to work, don’t do anything,” he said. “But as it comes up, you trust people to do the right things, and we found that we really haven’t had any issues.”

An associate defended Kushner by saying the newspaper owner spent less than 1 percent of his time on the Observer and was not involved in daily operations. As Kushner gave less attention to his newspaper, he hired a close friend, Ken Kurson, to become editor in 2013.

Kurson, who announced this past week that he was stepping down from his Observer job, said in an interview that those “who poke fun at the enormous portfolio” Kushner has at the White House fail to appreciate what he has gone through during the past decade — and what he means to Trump.

“It overlooks, first of all, the complexity and depth of what he has achieved in his business career,” Kurson said of Kushner. “It overlooks the major factor of how leaders select their teams. It is trust.”

Amy Brittain contributed to this report.

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Trump son-in-law had undisclosed contacts with Russian envoy – sources

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Two men stabbed to death on Oregon train trying to stop anti-Muslim rant

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A man fatally stabbed two passengers aboard a Portland, Oregon, commuter train after they tried to stop him from harassing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, police said on Saturday.

Police identified the assailant, who was arrested soon after the Friday afternoon attack, as Jeremy Joseph Christian of Portland, a 35-year-old convicted felon.

A senior researcher with the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a blog post, said Christian’s Facebook page showed he held “some racist and other extremist beliefs.”

The attack unfolded hours before the start of Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, when most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims observe a daily religious fast.

“It’s too early to say whether last night’s violence was an act of domestic terrorism or a federal hate crime,” Loren Cannon, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Oregon told a news conference on Saturday, adding the bureau had joined the investigation.

Christian started shouting ethnic and religious slurs, apparently at the two young women, one of whom wore a Muslim head-covering, the Portland Police Department said in a statement.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of North Portland, Oregon is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters May 27, 2017.  Portland Police Bureau/Handout via REUTERS

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of North Portland, Oregon is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters May 27, 2017. Portland Police Bureau/Handout via REUTERS

Three men who intervened were stabbed. Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley, Oregon died at the scene, while Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, of Southeast Portland died at a hospital, police said. A third victim, Micah David-Cole Fletcher of 21, Southeast Portland, remained in a local hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Christian was booked on two counts of aggravated murder and charges of attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon, and was ordered held without bail. His arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.

The women, who had left the train before officers arrived, were later in contact with authorities, according to police, who have not released their identities.

Dyjuana Hudson, the mother of one of them, told The Oregonian newspaper her 16-year-old daughter, who is black, boarded the train with a Muslim friend, also a teenager, who was wearing a hijab.

The attacker approached the girls while screaming at them, Hudson told the newspaper, relaying an account her daughter had given her. “He was saying that Muslims should die,” Hudson said.

On Friday, police said detectives wanted to speak to the two women. A detective later took a statement from her family, Hudson told the paper. She could not be reached for comment.

Police declined to release details of Christian’s criminal history, but the newspaper reported he had been convicted of robbery, kidnapping and weapon charges, citing court records. It was not immediately clear if he had obtained an attorney.

The suspect had no known affiliation with a criminal gang member nor any mental health history, police said.

In a statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations blamed an increase in anti-Muslim incidents in part on President Donald Trump’s focus on militant Islamist groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The administration has said that while it strongly opposes Islamist militants, it has no quarrel with Islam.

A Facebook page that appears to belong to Christian mentions “Jihadi Muslims” among people he disliked. The image on the page matches a photo of Christian released by police.

“There is too much hatred in the world right now and far too much violence. Our current political climate allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told a news conference.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Tom Brown and James Dalgleish)

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Russian diplomat claimed Kushner wanted backchannel: report

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Jared Kushner wanted to create a back-channel communications link between President Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, according to alleged discussions reported Friday.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told other officials in Moscow that Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, had suggested an off-the-grid way to talk after a meeting at Trump Tower that also included future — and now fired — National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to The Washington Post.

Friday night’s report, based off information from U.S. officials, came the same day the Post reported the Senate Intelligence Committee probing alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election had requested documents from the Trump campaign

It’s the first time the Trump campaign itself has been brought into the investigations into the meddling and potential collusion that have accelerated in recent weeks — after the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Jared Kushner scrutinized in Trump-Russia investigation: reports

Comey confirmed his agency’s investigation in March and reportedly resisted pressure from Trump to end its look at Flynn.

Flynn and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort are believed to be targets of the investigation, though multiple outlets reported Thursday that Kushner was considered a person of interest.

Team Trump had previously confirmed the meeting between Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak, but said it was not out of the ordinary and dismissed questions about collusion as “fake news.”

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Whichever Way You Sleep, You’ve Come To The Right Pillow

The Post report Friday was based off of conversations Kislyak had with other Russian officials, and the Americans involved did not comment.

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner fail to disclose art worth millions

It is not unusual for incoming presidential administrations to meet with foreign leaders, though before the December meeting, the Kremlin had been accused of orchestrating a campaign to influence the November election.

A joint intelligence community report released in January said the effort was aimed at helping Trump.

Kushner had originally failed to report his meeting with Vladimir Putin’s man in America on his application for a security clearance, but his lawyer said the documents were submitted prematurely and his client would inform authorities in an interview.

A potential backchannel between the Trump team and the U.S.’ former Cold War foe had previously been raised by a report in April, when the Post reported controversial Blackwater founder Erik Prince, also Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother, had acted as a go-between in January.

Fla. GOP operative received troves of documents from hacker

Prince reportedly acted as an envoy for Trump in a secretive meeting with unidentified emissary from Putin in the Seychelles — remote islands in the Indian Ocean — though Prince and the White House denied that he was sent by the incoming administration.

The Post reported Friday that the Kushner-Kislyak conversation in December talked about a Trump representative meeting a “Russian contact.”

Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak, which also included a phone call on the day the Obama administration announced sanctions in retaliation for the alleged interference, contributed to his swift exit from the administration in its early days.

Trump says he demanded the former general’s resignation after he misrepresented the content of his call to Vice President Pence, who told reporters that the chat did not involve talk of sanctions.

Russia probe involves current senior White House official: report

The President himself has talked about easing the economic punishments, which dragged Russia’s economy into recession after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. White House adviser Gary Cohn said Friday that a move softening the sanctions is unlikely.

Before the Senate Intelligence Committee asked for documents from the Trump campaign, large parts of the Russia investigation made public so far have focused on Flynn, who is also accused of not reporting money he took from Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT.

Flynn, barred from taking payments as the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, refused earlier this week to cooperate with subpoenas from the Senate Intelligence Committee, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not self-incriminate.

The former general has called the cyclone of news around his activities a “witch hunt” and suggested that he would talk if given immunity.

Paul Manafort, who left Trump’s campaign after reports that he received money off-the-books while working for a pro-Kremlin party in Ukraine, has also become a focus of the investigation, and reportedly received a subpoena over the loan for a Hamptons house he received while departing from the future President.

Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Putin, has also said that he is willing to speak with the congressional meddling inquiries if given immunity, the New York Times reported Friday.

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Russian bankers sue BuzzFeed over unverified Trump dossier

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NEW YORK (AP) – The owners of a Russian bank are suing BuzzFeed for publishing an uncorroborated dossier that alleged they were part of a Russian scheme to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan of Alfa Bank filed the defamation lawsuit Friday in Manhattan. They are seeking unspecified damages from BuzzFeed, editor-in-chief Ben Smith, reporter Ken Bensinger and editors Miriam Elder and Mark Schoofs.

The dossier published Jan. 10 included explosive claims that Russians had compiled compromising information about Republican Donald Trump. Buzzfeed admitted that the allegations were unverified and “potentially unverifiable.”

The lawsuit says Buzzfeed defamed the plaintiffs by linking them to the Kremlin campaign to interfere in the U.S. election.

BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal calls the lawsuit a “shameless attempt to bully and intimidate BuzzFeed News.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.