Jared Kushner failed to get a 'half-billion dollar investment' from a Qatari billionaire. Now he's 'hardening' America's stance towards Qatar.
President Trump's hardline stance on Qatar emerged not long after his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner's attempt to score a "half-billion dollar investment" from a Qatari billionaire fizzled, The Intercept reported Monday.
Trump in recent weeks has accused Qatar of funding terrorist activities and taken credit for the ongoing blockade several Gulf nations have imposed on Qatar. Kushner has reportedly "played a key behind-the scenes role in hardening the U.S. posture toward the embattled nation," The Intercept reported.
But before Kushner was involved in these talks, he was reportedly in negotiations with former Qatari prime minister and billionaire Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to secure an investment as he worked to refinance the Kushner family's stake in a building on New York City's Fifth Avenue. The Intercept noted that Kushner and his family are "severely underwater" on the property, located at 666 Fifth Ave., and that "it is difficult to overstate just how important to Kushner the investment ... is for him, his company, and his family's legacy in real estate."
The deal between Thani and Kushner hasn't panned out, with some saying it's dead and others saying it's simply "on hold as the deal's mix of loans and equity was reconsidered." Either way, the existence of this deal and Trump's subsequent stance on Qatar raises serious questions, The Intercept contended:
If the deal is not entirely dead, that means Jared Kushner is on the one hand pushing to use the power of American diplomacy to pummel a small nation while on the other his firm is hoping to extract an extraordinary amount of capital from there for a failing investment. If, however, the deal is entirely dead, the pummeling may be seen as intimidating to other investors on the end of a Kushner Companies pitch. [The Intercept]
A 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Monday morning north of Osaka, Japan, causing walls to collapse and fires to break out around the city.
Authorities say at least three people were killed — two elderly men and a 9-year-old girl who died at school after a concrete wall collapsed on her — and more than 40 injured. Flights were canceled and train and subway service suspended so officials could look for any possible damage. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake struck shortly after 8 a.m. at a depth of about eight miles. Catherine Garcia
Conservative Ivan Duque of the Democratic Center party is the next president of Colombia, after winning 53.9 percent of the vote in a second round runoff election Sunday.
Duque campaigned against the peace deal the government signed with FARC rebels in 2016, which ended 52 years of civil war. He vowed to modify parts of the deal that were controversial, like giving former militants guaranteed seats in congress. His opponent, Gustavo Petro, is the former mayor of Bogota and was once a leftist militant; he supports the peace deal.
When Duque takes office on August 8, shortly after his 42nd birthday, he will become the country's youngest ever president. He worked at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., before returning to Colombia in 2014 at the insistence of former president Alvaro Uribe to fill a seat in the senate. Critics say Duque is Uribe's puppet. Catherine Garcia
Pixar's Incredibles 2 exceeded all expectations for its opening weekend, bringing in an estimated $180 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales and breaking the record for biggest opening for an animated film.
The previous record holder was another Pixar flick, Finding Dory, which opened in 2016 with $135 million. Analysts predicted that Incredibles 2, out 14 years after the original Incredibles, would bring in anywhere from $120 million to $140 million during its opening weekend.
"You don't get to numbers this big without getting everyone, but we were really pleased with all of the demos," Cathleen Taff, Disney's distribution chief, told the Los Angeles Times. "It's a multigenerational crossover event where adults are just as excited to see it themselves as they are to introduce their kids to it." Catherine Garcia
In her first comments on the Trump administration's policy of separating parents from their children at the border, first lady Melania Trump said she "believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."
Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN on Sunday that the first lady "hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform."
The Trump administration is arresting every adult found crossing the border illegally and charging them with a federal crime, resulting in their children being taken and placed in government custody. People who are following legal procedure and trying to seek asylum are also being arrested at the border and separated from their children. Catherine Garcia
Brooks Koepka on Sunday won the 118th U.S. Open at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York.
Koepka also won the U.S. Open in 2017, his first major title, and is now the seventh golfer to win the national championship in back-to-back years and the first since 1989. The 28-year-old, ranked No. 9 in the world, had a final round 2-under-par 68, beating Tommy Fleetwood by one shot.
"The U.S. Open just takes so much discipline," he said. "You have got to be a great putter and just kind of let things roll off your back. I enjoy the test. I enjoy being pushed to the limit. Sometimes you feel like you are about to break mentally, but that's what I enjoy. I enjoy hard golf courses." Catherine Garcia
When Mexico's Hirving Lozano scored a goal against Germany during World Cup play on Sunday, fans back home were so excited that they made the ground shake, setting off seismic detectors.
Mexican officials said an "artificial quake" reported in Mexico City was likely caused by "massive jumps during the goal from the Mexico national soccer team." Lozano scored in the 35th minute of the game, the lone goal of the match. It was a major victory for Mexico, defeating the World Cup's defending champion 1-0. Catherine Garcia
Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon resurfaced Sunday for an appearance on ABC's This Week to weigh in on, among other things, President Trump's honesty and what's wrong with the pope.
President Trump "has not always told the truth," host Jonathan Karl said while recalling Bannon's time in the White House, but Bannon disagreed. "I don't know that," Bannon replied. “This is another thing to demonize him." Karl pushed back: "You think the president has never lied?"
Bannon said he thinks exactly that. "Not to my knowledge, no," he answered. "Except when he called me Sloppy Steve."
.@jonkarl: "You say the president has never lied?"
Steve Bannon: "Not to my knowledge, no… I think he speaks in a particular vernacular that connects to people in this country." pic.twitter.com/RuWsmkICuW
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 17, 2018
Bannon also addressed the Trump administration's broadly condemned and not legally mandatory policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. "It's zero tolerance. I don't think you have to justify it," he said. "We have a crisis on the southern border but the elites in the city ... want to manage situations to bad outcomes. And Donald Trump is not going to do that."
In contrast with his praise for Trump, Bannon, a professing Catholic, slammed Pope Francis for his approach to Europe's refugee crisis and labeled the Catholic Church "one of the worst instigators of this open borders policy." Watch those comments below. Bonnie Kristian
After Pope Francis tweeted “Woe to anyone who stifles [children’s] joyful impulse to hope,” Steve Bannon responds: “The Pope — more than anyone else — has driven the migrant crisis in Europe... the Catholic Church is one of the worst instigators of this open borders policy.” pic.twitter.com/KCbJhfYdHa
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 17, 2018