Jared Kushner was a junior at Harvard when an enterprising political operative was drawn into his family’s orbit.
His name: Paul Manafort.
It was 2002, and, back then, few might have imagined that the two men’s worlds would intersect one day in the figure of Donald Trump.
But the Kushners and the Manaforts, it turns out, goes way back -- at least when it comes to two of New York’s great obsessions: money and real estate.
Kushner, of course, is now the son-in-law and confidant of President Trump. Manafort is a big-time Republican strategist and Trump’s former campaign manager. Both have been pulled into the vortex of questions surrounding the administration and Russia.
But 15 years ago, when Trump was still running casinos, Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, received a mortgage on a 10-bedroom home in the Hamptons on Long Island. The $150,000 loan was made by NorCrown Bank, in Livingston, New Jersey, whose chairman was Kushner’s father, Charles, the patriarch of the family real estate empire and, at the time, a Democratic powerbroker in New Jersey.
NorCrown was acquired by Valley National Bancorp in 2005. Jared married Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, in 2009.
“Paul Manafort did not know Charles Kushner 15 years ago when this transaction occurred,” said Jason Maloni, a spokesman for the Manaforts. “He has never met or talked to him in his life. These loans are all ordinary, arm’s length transactions.” He declined to comment about Kathleen Manafort. Charles Kushner declined to comment for this article.