Anthony Kennedy’s Son Loaned Trump One Billlllllion Dollars

A really weird detail buried in a New York Times story about President Trump's efforts to get the Justice to retire.

Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman rather bury the lede in their NYT report “Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening.” It begins,

President Trump singled him out for praise even while attacking other members of the Supreme Court. The White House nominated people close to him to important judicial posts. And members of the Trump family forged personal connections.

Their goal was to assure Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that his judicial legacy would be in good hands should he step down at the end of the court’s term that ended this week, as he was rumored to be considering. Allies of the White House were more blunt, warning the 81-year-old justice that time was of the essence. There was no telling, they said, what would happen if Democrats gained control of the Senate after the November elections and had the power to block the president’s choice as his successor.

There were no direct efforts to pressure or lobby Justice Kennedy to announce his resignation on Wednesday, and it was hardly the first time a president had done his best to create a court opening. “In the past half-century, presidents have repeatedly been dying to take advantage of timely vacancies,” said Laura Kalman, a historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

But in subtle and not so subtle ways, the White House waged a quiet campaign to ensure that Mr. Trump had a second opportunity in his administration’s first 18 months to fulfill one of his most important campaign promises to his conservative followers — that he would change the complexion and direction of the Supreme Court.

There are several more paragraphs of detail, all of which are interesting enough but nothing particularly unusual. Presidents want to burnish their legacy by appointing Supreme Court Justices, who often serve decades after the man who appointed them has left the White House or even shuffled off this mortal coil. Trump went to unusual lengths to get an octogenarian Republican to retire but didn’t cross anything that struck me as an ethical red line.

Several paragraphs down into the story, long after most would quit reading, we get this:

One person who knows both men remarked on the affinity between Mr. Trump and Justice Kennedy, which is not obvious at first glance. Justice Kennedy is bookish and abstract, while Mr. Trump is earthy and direct.

But they had a connection, one Mr. Trump was quick to note in the moments after his first address to Congress in February 2017. As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role.

During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.

This has, naturally, attracted the interest of Trump opponents. For example, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, tweeted this:

TPM’s Josh Marshall picked up on it as well and adds this bit of insight:

As many of you will remember, Deutsche Bank isn’t just any bank. As I noted in the first post I wrote about Trump’s ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin back on July 23rd, 2016, by the mid-90s, every major US bank had blackballed Donald Trump. as the Times put it in 2016, “Several bankers on Wall Street say they are simply not willing to take on what they almost uniformly referred to as ‘Donald risk.'” None would do business with him. With one big exception: Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank of course is not actually an American bank. But it has a major business in the US. And it was the bank’s effort to gain a bigger foothold in the US that seems to have been behind the special relationship with Trump.

As The Financial Times put it last year, in the middle 1990s, Deutsche was looking for a foothold in the US and “the bank saw a niche in serving rich developers who had hit a few bumps along the way, such as Harry Macklowe and Ian Bruce Eichner, both celebrated owners and losers of New York real estate.” Donald Trump fit the bill to a tee.

[…]

When I first read the Times story I wasn’t sure whether the younger Kennedy, whose title was Managing Director and Global Head of Real Estate Capital Markets, would have been someone to actually make loans to someone like Trump as opposed to overseeing more complex or synthetic efforts like mortgage backed securities and such. But it turns out he definitely was. The FT says Kennedy was “one of Mr Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche.” A review of Kennedy’s bio suggests those twelve years were 1997 through 2009 – key years for Trump.

Kennedy was one of the few bankers to accurately predict the 2007/08 mortgage backed securities meltdown and made an astonishing amount of money for Deutsche Bank by shorting mortgages starting in 2006. As Crain’s New York put in 2010, “in just the first half of 2007, [Kennedy’s group’s] bet generated as much as $540 million in revenue for Deutsche Bank as subprime mortgages fell apart, according to Bloomberg News, and the wager proved even more lucrative as the rot spread.”

New York‘s Margaret Hartmann makes another connection:

Trump also used his family to win over Kennedy. For once Don Jr. was a political asset; Kennedy’s son Justin, Deutsche Bank’s global head of real-estate capital markets, knows the younger Trump from his work as a real-estate developer.

POLITICO’s Shane Goldmacker has a longer version of the Trump-Kennedy peres convo back in April:

After Donald Trump wrapped up his first speech to Congress and worked his way through the crowd, he lingered on his handshake with Anthony Kennedy, the 80-year-old Supreme Court justice.

The boom mics picked up their seemingly private conversation.

“Say hello to your boy,” Trump said, “Special guy.” “Your kids have been very nice to him,” Kennedy replied. “Well,” Trump said, “they love him, and they love him in New York.”

There’s no evidence here of any wrongdoing. Presumably, Justin Kennedy had no idea way back in 2009 that Trump would eventually become President and Anthony Kennedy had no reason to know of the loan, much less to press the loan. But it sure is odd.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Presumably, Justin Kennedy had no idea Trump would eventually become President and Anthony Kennedy had no reason to know of the loan, much less to press the loan.

    The first is certainly true, the second… One’s job is central to one’s life. I have 2 adult sons. We talk shop every time we talk. Not every little detail but more than a little and the idea that Justin would be giving trump a billion $s in loans without ever mentioning it is a stretch at best.

    I mean, c’mon, it’s trump.

    24
  2. SenyorDave says:

    This seems like another bit of odd timing (headline from NBC News):

    Supreme Court agrees to take up double jeopardy issue
    The high court has previously ruled that being prosecuted twice — once by a state and again in federal court — doesn’t violate the Fifth Amendment.

    8
  3. SenyorDave says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Good point. When I became an adult whenever I saw my parents, my dad would always ask about my job, and while I wouldn’t go into great detail I certainly might have mentioned that I was dealing with a celebrity like Trump.

    I’m not sure there is any such thing as coincidence when you are dealing with Trump.

    9
  4. James Joyner says:

    @SenyorDave: That is weird, although I sincerely hope SCOTUS overrules that precedent, which is an absolute travesty. Having to defend against one sovereign is expensive and time-consuming enough; giving another a second bite of the apple can be ruinous.

    6
  5. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, it’s quite possible that the loans got mentioned. But, again, that was almost a decade ago and his son is no longer at DB. It’s interesting but, absent something else, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious malfeasance. IANAL but wouldn’t think this connection required recusal, for instance.

    4
  6. To be fair, it doesn’t seem from the coverage that Justin Kennedy alone approved the loan, a loan of that size would obviously have been reviewed by a number of people at Deutsche Bank. And it’s worth noting that the Trump connection to that bank has been well known for a long time precisely because of its role in helping Trump get out of the hole he fell into in the early 90s.

    1
  7. @James Joyner:

    No, there is no reason why this would have required Kennedy to recuse himself generally, although he arguably may have been required to if there was some litigation involving the loan itself that made its way to the Supreme Court. That never happened.

  8. @OzarkHillbilly:

    I’m sure Kennedy and his son talked about their jobs, but I doubt Justice Kennedy went into detail about all the cases he played a role in or that Justin Kennedy would have revealed financial details about the Trump loan to his father.

    1
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Of course Kennedy didn’t go into detail about ALL the cases he heard. I doubt very much he went into great detail about any of his cases, but about certain aspects/personalities of certain cases? Yes, he’s human, that is what people do.

    I also doubt very much that Justin went into great financial detail of the trump loans with his father (aren’t there rules and regulations barring that sort of thing?) but the idea that he worked on multiple loans to trump and never mentioned that small little fact in conversation with his father? I don’t buy it.

    4
  10. SenyorDave says:

    If this were any other president or other time I’d dismiss the coincidences, but we now are in a situation where IMO Trump and the GOP will do anything to stay in power and increase that power. That includes treating the DOJ as if they were the enemy, demonizing the media (Trump called the media the enemy of the people the other day).

    How can this possibly be explained (Richard Shelby being quoted):
    Shortly before traveling to Moscow with several colleagues, a senior Republican senator all but gave Russia a green light for future interference in U.S. elections.

    “Most countries would meddle and play in our domestic elections if they could, and some of them have,” the Washington Examiner quoted Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican and chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, as saying.
    “We have to be realistic nations are going to do what is in their next [sic] interest; we’ve done a lot of things too.”

    Shelby, a former chairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee, is leading a delegation of Republican senators to Russia for nine days to meet with Russian officials. It’s unclear if they will meet with Vladimir Putin or his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

    IOW, go right ahead gentlemen and destroy our election process.

    11
  11. In Portugal it will be ilegal a bank manager revealing details about the people to whom the bank loans money; I imagine that is similar in USA (of course many people talk with close relatives about that, but neither of them will confess this in public)

    3
  12. Liberal Capitalist says:

    There’s no evidence here of any wrongdoing…

    B U T … (and apologies in advance for going way off on a tangent)

    This is what drives me absolutely crazy. How the rich accomplish things, and how the poor believe that America functions.

    The rich shake hands, smile, slap on the back, and get loans for one billlllllion dollars.

    The poor think that being humble, and not asking for anything, doing it for themselves and the whole “poor-but proud” thing is a way to live and succeed.

    (and if it was the way to succeed… then the whole country music genre wouldn’t exist)

    My wife’s family comes from western Michigan, which (in some areas) actually look up to the successful folk in Appalachia. They have no idea how money works, or what it takes to create wealth. Generationally, they have been beaten down so that they are afraid to express an opinion or express what they want.

    I have had some success with some of the younger kids, giving them a copy of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, and confronting them when they reply “oh, I don’t know…” when asked for their opinion. (Yes you DO! What is it!!??!!). Now they have gotten a voice, and a few realize that money is a tool that allows you to get goals accomplished, not just an end to itself, and that having the right debt is actually a great thing.

    Generationally, the Conservatives have been so successful creating this “proud” concept that every individual themselves (without any help) can accomplish anything they want in America, when the reality is that collective bargaining results in higher salaries and quality of life.

    Trump is so bootstrappy, starting with only his fathers millions, and borrowing billions, not paying bills, and declaring bankruptcy. Quite the self-made man, doing it all by himself.

    harrumph.

    27
  13. gVOR08 says:

    @SenyorDave: This does rather define “begs coincidence”, doesn’t it.
    The conspiracy theories kind of write themselves. “Kennedy, retire or we’ll reveal your kid knew the Trump loan was money laundering.” No reason they’d confine kompromat to just Trump. Having a Justice in your pocket might also be handy.

    6
  14. James Joyner says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Oh, no doubt. Given a few million in seed money and a complete lack of shamelessness or conscience, anyone can succeed in this land of opportunity.

    14
  15. James Pearce says:

    There’s no evidence here of any wrongdoing.

    There’s no evidence of any doing, period.

    2
  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    All of the Deutsche Bank stuff is questionable…but this seems like a bit of a side-show. Interesting but not indicative of anything more squirrelly than was already known.
    They were doing Russian money laundering and giving Dennison yyuuuge loans that no other bank would…but that’s probably nothing. /snark

    10
  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Given a few million in seed money and a complete lack of shamelessness or conscience, anyone can succeed in this land of opportunity.

    And yet Dennison has less money than he would have if he had put his seed money into an S&P500 fund. Still, I guess succeeding downward is a thing.

    4
  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Speaking of money…Larry Kudlow on Fox Business this morning;

    “…the economy is throwing off [an] enormous amount of new tax revenues. As the economy gears up, more people working, better jobs and careers, those revenues come rolling in, and the deficit, which is one of the other criticisms, is coming down. And it’s coming down rapidly.”

    This can’t be called anything but a bald-faced lie. The deficit isn’t falling…it’s growing rapidly. During a time of economic growth that is nothing short of governmental malfeasance.
    I’m old enough to remember when Republicans claimed to be fiscally responsible.

    16
  19. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    And yet Dennison has less money than he would have if he had put his seed money into an S&P500 fund. Still, I guess succeeding downward is a thing.

    While that statistic gets cited a lot, I find it rather silly. While Trump isn’t anywhere near as rich as he’d like us to believe, he’s lived the lifestyle of a billionaire for decades. He couldn’t have done that if he’d put all his money into a fund and left it alone.

    2
  20. teve tory says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is that book good? The only thing I’ve read in this genre is The Millionaire Next Door, which had a few good points. There’s a lot of junk in that genre, is my distant impression.

    2
  21. teve tory says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: You know it’s a lie, I know it’s a lie. But will the Trumpers acknowledge it’s a lie? I doubt it.

    1
  22. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    He lives off credit.
    And stiffing people.

    8
  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @teve tory:

    But will the Trumpers acknowledge it’s a lie?

    Maria Bartiromo didn’t call him on it…so probably not. The Trumpets believe anything they are told to believe.

    5
  24. JKB says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: And yet Dennison has less money than he would have if he had put his seed money into an S&P500 fund. Still, I guess succeeding downward is a thing.

    You’ve found the way to riches. Trump father built a business that had reached modest wealth in NYC terms when Donald took over. But it wasn’t Manhattan skyscraper money. It was outer borough developer money.

    But you are saying that someone with this modest wealth could have just invested in the S&P 500 and made Manhattan skyscraper money? Seems like advantage to those with similar modest wealth who don’t live in the NYC area. Why aren’t the rich of Kansas taking this route?

    But we might also consider that Donald took over the business in the early ’70s. As Warren Buffett has said, he made a lot of his money by not being in the stock market in the ’70s. Most of the rest comes from his penchant for buying, holding and building businesses. Trump got his billions from developing real estate starting in the outer boroughs of NYC, then Manhattan, then other properties in cities around the world. And, it might be shocking, but real estate is developed by borrowing money, from banks, from investors.

    And you may be distressed to learn that Donald Trump is flamboyant like his father, who literally ran showboats along the beaches outside NYC to promote his projects.

    3
  25. MBunge says:

    I don’t mind good, honest muck-raking but the key word is honest. Has Josh Marshall shown a bit of concern over the stories about the Clinton Foundation, many of them having a hell of a lot more backing them up than this Kennedy thing? I mean, I’ll bet five bucks I can find more negative posts about Trump on Breitbart than you can find positive Trump posts on TPM and when Breitbart has a more nuanced view on things than you do…

    And just so it doesn’t get flushed down the memory hole, Marshall has also indulged in tinfoil hat conspiracy theories that Trump isn’t as rich as he claims. And by not as rich, Marshall doesn’t mean “Trump says he’s worth $3 billion but he’s only worth $2 billion!” He means “Trump says he’s worth $3 billion but he’s only worth $200 million, maybe.” There’s less evidence for that than there was for Obama being born in Kenya.

    Mike

    4
  26. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:
    Jesus-fvck, you fanboys will believe anything.
    He got his fathers company and inherited money when the Sr. Dennison died.
    Reports vary from $20-40 Million. Marco Rubio says it was $100 Million. His tax returns would tell us. Oh yeah…he’s hiding something so he won’t show them. I’m sure Mueller has them.
    He made his wealth by stiffing contractors and lawyers and anyone else who did business with him. And oh yeah…money laundering for the Russians.

    10
  27. teve tory says:

    Now we know why McConnell cancelled recess a while back. He had a tip off from his son.

    3
  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:
    Another fanboy heard from.

    2
  29. teve tory says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: some estimates put it at $250 million.

    1
  30. al Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    And by not as rich, Marshall doesn’t mean “Trump says he’s worth $3 billion but he’s only worth $2 billion!” He means “Trump says he’s worth $3 billion but he’s only worth $200 million, maybe.”

    I suspect that Trump is heavily leveraged, and his net worth may well be in the $200M-$300M area. Not a trivial amount but far less than Trump represents his wealth to be. No surprise there.

    8
  31. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @teve tory:

    @Liberal Capitalist: “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is that book good? The only thing I’ve read in this genre is The Millionaire Next Door, which had a few good points. There’s a lot of junk in that genre, is my distant impression.

    It’s a good read, as the author has a good perspective: A child of divorce, he had two dads: Dad #1 was a college professor who believed in hard work, having no debt. Dad #2 was a more the capitalist, that understands the power of leveraging money.

    And now you can emulate the millionaire next door: Buy “RichDad Poor Dad” used on Amazon, instead of new. 🙂

    1
  32. Mister Bluster says:

    @SenyorDave:..Shortly before traveling to Moscow with several colleagues, a senior Republican senator all but gave Russia a green light for future interference in U.S. elections.

    Let’s play Living Reporter and provide a date for this activity and then jump under your desk when REPUBLICAN President Pud calls you “the enemy of the people.” again.

    “Enemy of the people” has a long, horrific pedigree, of course. You will find it in the French Terror. You find it again in the Soviet Terror. Thousands of people were executed as “enemies of the people.”

    1
  33. teve tory says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Instead I could emulate Fake Billionaire Donald Trump–find a .pdf copy online and don’t pay for it. 😛

    I’ll get a copy from the liberry. I’ve been out of work for a few mos.

    BTW best piece of advice in Millionaire Next Door is to shop for clothes at secondhand/consignment stores in rich neighborhoods, where rich idiots buy pricey clothes and toss them quickly. I found a virtually new $600 chocolate Hugo Boss sport coat for $80 one time.

    3
  34. Mister Bluster says:

    Just noticed emojis (sp?) recently. I have poked every button under
    Speak Your Mind and can not tickle up one of the little fvckers.
    Not available on Safari?

  35. James Joyner says:

    @Mister Bluster: I think a handful of common emojis auto-create when you type them old-style 🙂

    1
  36. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @teve tory:

    …best piece of advice in Millionaire Next Door is to shop for clothes at secondhand/consignment stores in rich neighborhoods…

    Agreed! I have a few that I visit from time to time as well. I have a nice collection of Brooks Brothers shirts as a result. 🙂

    Also, always great to look into the Habitat ReStore for building materials. You would be surprised what you will find…. Not just used cabinets, but often large projects donate remaining materials (rather than return) for the tax write off. New tile floor? Pennies on the dollar.

    And yes, like you, I’ve just recently separated from my employer, accepting a severance rather than scrambling for an alternate position. However this gives me an opportunity to complete multiple projects that had been pending, and even consider starting my own General Contractor company.

    But my situation is a good one. I have options, and am under no pressure, unlike most Americans.

    3
  37. Mister Bluster says:

    @James Joyner:..type them old-style

    I don’t even know what that means…\_|..|_/…?

  38. James Joyner says:

    @Mister Bluster: smiley face as colon parentheses, as an example.

    1
  39. Mister Bluster says:

    @James Joyner:..
    🙂 apparently I’m missing something.
    I will try to figure this out.
    Sometimes I can’t stand being dumber than this keyboard…
    (other times it doesn’t bother me…)

    edit: ok…so now I don’t know how I did that because there is no preview
    🙂
    2nd edit: no more emojis 4 me

    1
  40. Gustopher says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Am I just imagining things, or has the quality of Brooks Brothers shirts has gone way down in the past decade? Every time I buy a bunch, they seem to last a little bit less than the last time.

    I swear, they are now as good as JC Penney shirts were a decade ago. JC Penney has also declined to the point where their shirts are just crap…

    Or I have higher standards now.

    (I’m a weird size, so that limits my options for comparing to other brands… who has 38” sleeves)

  41. Gustopher says:

    This just sounds like wealthy and connected people intersecting, rather than anything dubious and illegal.

    There are no signs of a quid pro quo, and no strange defense of Duechebank coming from the administration.

    It’s like a weird, innocent echo of the Russia scandal.

  42. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster: It’s a shame normal emoji don’t work, otherwise I would have posted a farting gorilla.

    1
  43. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Brooks Brothers shirts

    And their stores only have slim fit stuff any more.

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce: What, they did absolutely NOTHING with a billion $s?????

    You are not that stupid or obtuse, James.

    1
  45. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Just one comment on Brooks Brothers… the B.B. outlet stores are not even close to the retail stores in suit / cloth quality.

    Jeez. First world problems.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher:

    This just sounds like wealthy and connected people intersecting, rather than anything dubious and illegal.

    It is, except for the fact that trump is involved. When has he ever concerned himself with the legal niceties?

    2
  47. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    What, they did absolutely NOTHING with a billion $s?????

    “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”
    . Everett Dirksen

  48. Mister Bluster says:

    @Gustopher:..farting gorilla

    Now I’m sorry I ever asked about this.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB: If I recall correctly, no one here was saying it, but some were quoting an article from Forbes where the author was making that claim while claiming that Trump’s net worth was “greatly exaggerated.” An assertion that I think is probably valid BTW.

  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: The one you tried to make can be done with the following formula: Underscore the line above the current one, forward slash, underscore the current line, open parentheses, quotation marks (?), close parentheses, underscore, backslash, underscore the line above again_ _ Someone probably knows how to suck up
    _(“)_/ the space between the lines, but I don’t know enough code.

    ETA: as I noted, I don’t know enough code to actually pull this one off, but my original had the rest of the shrug between the two underscores. Oh well…

    Second edit: I forgot a back slash after the quotation marks (“/)

  51. Brian McLoughlin says:

    Does no one use proof readers or editors anymore???

  52. James Smith says:

    OMG its true. Corruption and financial incest in both the White House and Supreme Court. One hand covers the others back. One can only imagine the GOP Congressional dirty monies.

    1
  53. teve tory says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Just one comment on Brooks Brothers… the B.B. outlet stores are not even close to the retail stores in suit / cloth quality.

    There’s an Adam Ruins Everything wherein it’s discussed how Outlet stores pretend to carry factory Oopsies, but in fact are separately-sourced deliberately low-quality divisions of the company.

    i think it’s this one

  54. James Joyner says:

    @Brian McLoughlin: Not on social media, no.

  55. Seer Too says:

    @James Joyner: Without state level checks, has it occurred to you that if Trump pardons himself – and all of his buddies like Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort – for “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” there won’t be a second check on his power in the states? Say goodbye to democracy as we know it.