×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 18, 2018
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kushner Cos. is in advanced talks to receive a bailout of its struggling flagship office tower, 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, from Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian firm whose real estate arm, Brookfield Property Partners, is partly owned by Qatar's sovereign investment fund, The New York Times reports. Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior White House adviser, was Kushner Cos. CEO in 2007 when his family company purchased the aluminum-clad 41-story building for a record $1.8 billion, but it has lost money ever since. Today, 30 percent of the building is vacant and it brings in only about half of Kushner Cos. annual mortgage payment.

Kushner gave up control of Kushner Cos. when he joined the White House and divested himself of assets including 666 Fifth Avenue. But his elevation to the White House helped scuttle negotiations with Chinese insurance company Anbang and former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jasim al-Thani. Kushner Cos. subsequent global search for financing for 666 Fifth Avenue has run into criticism over potential conflicts of interest or foreign influence on a top White House adviser.

Qatar Investment Authority is the second-largest investor in Brookfield Property Partners, after Brookfield Asset Management, but the company said Thursday that "no Qatar-linked entity has any involvement in, investment in, or even knowledge of this potential transaction." The list of investors in the deal "is not possible to independently verify," The Washington Post reports, and the details are not expected to be made public if the deal closes.

If the deal goes through, Brookfield reportedly plans to replace the aluminum exterior with glass, renovate the lobby, and put in new elevators. Kushner Cos. would retain some stake. Peter Weber

10:29 a.m. ET

President Trump has ... interesting taste in art.

During Trump's wide-ranging 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday, eagle-eyed viewers spotted a very ... interesting painting hanging in the White House:

As you can see, the painting depicts Trump laughing alongside a slew of former Republican presidents. Trump seems to be enjoying his favorite Coke, while Abraham Lincoln has a glass of water, a beverage chronologically suited to his mid-1800s presidency. Ulysses S. Grant, Calvin Coolidge, and even the not-so-popular Herbert Hoover are lurking in the background, as is a mysterious female figure.

These artistic choices are all the work of the seemingly bipartisan Andy Thomas, who has also depicted Democratic presidents playing poker. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) gave this painting to Trump, and the president called the artist to seemingly compliment the work, saying "he'd seen a lot of paintings of himself and he rarely liked them," Thomas told The Daily Beast.

Thomas said Trump's skin tone and smile were "hard to paint." But he prevailed, creating a perfect match for the White House's gold curtains, gold carpet, and giant jar of pink and red Starburst. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:29 a.m. ET

The small Gulf nation of Yemen is on the brink of the "worst famine in 100 years," the United Nations warned in a BBC report Monday, and it could reach that grim milestone within three months if the conflict does not cease.

"I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union — that was just unacceptable," said Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.

"Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at," she continued. "We predict that we are looking at 12 to 13 million innocent civilians who are at risk of dying from the lack of food."

The U.S.-supported, Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war has implemented a blockade — cast as an effort to keep weapons away from Houthi rebel fighters — with deadly results. Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, so limited port access for civilian concerns has combined with currency collapse to produce starvation conditions. The country is already wracked by cholera, and more than 100 Yemeni children die daily from starvation and preventable diseases.

Watch the BBC report on starvation in Yemen below; be warned, the images are disturbing. Bonnie Kristian

10:07 a.m. ET
Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images

North and South Korean delegations met Monday and reached a number of agreements to further the thaw in relations between Pyongyang and Seoul. Chief among them is a plan to reconnect roads and railways severed when the Korean Peninsula was split in half by war more than half a century ago.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry reported Monday it will share details of the arrangement with the United States and will work with other nations to avoid running afoul of international sanctions against North Korea tied to its nuclear weapons program. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held later this year for work on the Gyeongui railroad line, which once connected Seoul and Sinuiju, a North Korean city on the Chinese border.

Other topics in Monday's talks included fielding a joint Olympic team in 2020, making a bid to cohost the Olympics in 2032, and reuniting elderly people with family members stuck on the opposite side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Potential for further progress in the economic and political arenas is limited until North Korea makes movements toward denuclearization that result in the easing of international sanctions. Bonnie Kristian

10:01 a.m. ET
Screenshot/Mediaite/Fox News

President Trump's recent interview with 60 Minutes could not have gone over better with his favorite morning show hosts.

Fox & Friends on Monday heaped praise on the president for his Sunday interview with 60 Minutes, Mediaite reports, and they particularly loved one moment that drew some criticism from other pundits. During a somewhat heated exchange with Lesley Stahl, Trump declared to the 60 Minutes anchor, "I'm president, and you're not."

When this clip played on Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy literally laughed out loud, while host Ainsley Earhardt said this was the "best line" because Trump was "reminding her who's boss." Brian Kilmeade also joined his co-hosts in laughing at the zinger. The hosts were positively Trump-like in raving about the president's overall performance, with Earhardt noting that "many people" are saying Trump answered "everything correctly" and with Kilmeade arguing the president has "never been more confident."

They also criticized journalist Lesley Stahl, saying she interrupted Trump "a good bit" and asked unfair questions about global warming, which Trump claimed wasn't manmade. But if anything, the Fox & Friends hosts felt this only made the president look better, with Kilmeade excitedly declaring that Trump's attitude in these interviews is, "bring it on." Brendan Morrow

9:49 a.m. ET
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Hamptons International Film Festival

Actor Alec Baldwin called on voters to "overthrow" the government Sunday night, but he's not ready to haul out the guillotines.

"The way we implement change in America is through elections. We change governments here at home in an orderly and formal way," Baldwin said at a fundraising dinner in New Hampshire for the state's Democratic Party. "In that orderly and formal way and lawful way, we need to overthrow the government of the United States under Donald Trump." Baldwin may have been using "government" in the parliamentary sense, which is similar to how Americans commonly use "administration."

To support his case, Baldwin highlighted issues including gender equality, gun policy, criminal justice reform, and immigration. "There is a small cadre of people currently in power," he said, "who are hell-bent on continuing a malicious immigration policy that has set this country up for human rights violations charges by the global community."

The day before these comments, Baldwin reprised his role as President Trump on Saturday Night Live. Bonnie Kristian

9:25 a.m. ET

After speaking with Saudi King Salman about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump wants a second opinion.

Trump announced Monday on Twitter that he will be "immediately" sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with the Saudi monarch. The president also noted King Salman "denies any knowledge of what may have happened" to Khashoggi, who disappeared after going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document he needed to get married. Turkey says it has evidence that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, The Washington Post reports.

Trump has threatened to inflict "severe punishment" on Saudi Arabia if it is proven to be responsible, and on Sunday, Saudi Arabia threatened retaliation if the U.S. follows through on any sanctions, per The Associated Press.

Trump in his tweet specifically references the fact that Jamal Khashoggi is not an American citizen, going out of his way to quote Salman as saying Khashoggi was "our Saudi Arabian citizen." This is something Trump has previously pointed out several times, although he told Fox & Friends last week that the fact that Khashoggi isn't an American citizen "in this case doesn't matter" and that "I don't like it." Brendan Morrow

8:33 a.m. ET

The #MeToo movement has forced many on the left to reassess their feelings about the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal. But Hillary Clinton isn't budging.

Clinton told CBS in a new interview that her husband's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the mid-1990s was not an abuse of power, pointing to the fact that Lewinsky "was an adult." At the time of the scandal, Bill Clinton was 49 years old and Lewinsky was 22.

Lewinsky said in 2014 that her relationship with Clinton was consensual, although he "took advantage of" her. However, she said in February 2018 that she's now beginning to question this, saying that with such a power imbalance between the two, "the idea of consent might well be rendered moot." She also called what President Clinton did a "gross abuse of power."

Even some Democrats — including Hillary Clinton's successor in the Senate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) — now believe that President Clinton should have stepped down, but Hillary Clinton told CBS that her husband "absolutely" should not have done so. She pointed to the fact that there was an investigation that she believes "came out in the right place." When also asked what role she played in criticizing the character of her husband's accusers, Clinton responded, "none," saying she takes "responsibility for my life and my actions." Watch a portion of Clinton's interview with CBS below. Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads