Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #1017 Supreme Court Trump Card: Family Trump, Family [Anthony] Kennedy and Peter Thiel

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained HERE. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by the fall of 2017. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more.)

WFMU-FM is podcasting For The Record–You can subscribe to the podcast HERE.

You can subscribe to e-mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to the comments made on programs and posts–an excellent source of information in, and of, itself HERE.

This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Carl Schmitt, a chief influence on Peter Thiel’s legal thinking, on the right.

Introduction: Much has been said about Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court justice, replacing Anthony Kennnedy.

In this program, we highlight extensive networking between the Trump and Kennedy families and, in turn, some apparent “deep networking” between some of the individuals in the Trump/Kennedy nexus and institutions linked to key elements of the remarkable and deadly Bormann flight capital network.

Deutsche Bank and the shadow of the I.G. Farben chemical complex figure into the latter part of this equation.

The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank. In FTR #919, we analyzed a New York Times article highlighting Donald Trump’s altogether opaque real estate developments and evidence that those projects had significant links to elements of the Bormann capital network.

In that program we set forth the primary role of Deutsche Bank in financing Trump’s real estate projects.

” . . . While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter. That doesn’t include at least another $1 billion in loan commitments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affiliated entities. The long-standing connection makes Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. operation and has been grappling with reputational problems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the financial institution with probably the strongest ties to the controversial New York businessman. . . .”

The fact that Deutsche Bank is the primary financial backer of “Trump Incorporated” is of primary importance. The bank is central to the Bormann capital network.

The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank.

Furthermore, jurists who clerked for Anthony Kennedy figure prominently in Trump’s judicial appointments:

  1. ” . . . . He [Trump] picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Then, after Justice Gorsuch’s nomination was announced, a White House official singled out two candidates for the next Supreme Court vacancy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. The two judges had something in common: They had both clerked for Justice Kennedy. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In the meantime, as the White House turned to stocking the lower courts, it did not overlook Justice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nominated three of them to federal appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scudder, both of whom have been confirmed, and Eric Murphy, the Ohio solicitor general, whom Mr. Trump nominated to the Sixth Circuit this month. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin . . . . 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. . . .”

After Kennedy left Deutsche Bank in 2009 he went on to become co-CEO LNR Property LLC. LNR Property saved Jared Kushner’s midtown Manhattan property in 2011:

  1. ” . . . . from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Property LLC with Tobin Cobb. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . According the New York Times, in 2007 Kushner Companies purchased ‘an aluminum-clad office tower in Midtown Manhattan, for a record price of $1.8 billion.’ At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was ‘considered a classic example of reckless underwriting. The transaction was so highly leveraged that the cash flow from rents amounted to only 65 percent of the debt service.’ . . .”
  3.  ” . . . Who came to the rescue? None other than LNR Property, the company whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. According to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kushner and LNR ‘reached a possible agreement with LNR Property, a firm specializing in restructuring troubled debt and which oversees the mortgage, that would allow him to retain control of the tower by modifying the terms of the $1.2 billion mortgage tied to the office portion of the building.’ . . .”

Peter Thiel

The links between TrumpWorld and Anthony Kennedy’s sons is deeper still. Kennedy’s other son Gregory, has long-standing ties to Trump Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, whom we first analyzed in FTR #718.

” . . . . . . . . Kennedy’s seat, meantime, seemed destined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glowing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles, and whose other adult child has connections to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, most recently when the Kennedy firm Disruptive Technology Advisers worked with Thiel’s Palantir Technologies. . . .”

Gregory Kennedy’s DTA has an unusually close relationship with Palantir, a company that has helped the Trump administration.

Kennedy’s DTA has other personal connections to Palantir. Alex Fishman and Alex Davis, two other DTA founders, “enjoyed a very close relationship” with Palantir co-founder Alex Karp, according to the lawsuit.

It should be noted that the alleged secrecy with which Palantir treats its operating and investing information is characteristic of Bormann organizations. A closeted, insiders-only operating ethic serves the need for this consummately powerful organization to maintain a relatively low profile, even as it gains power, influence and wealth.

” . . . . Yet Palantir — whose stock changes hands only through private trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed information about its business private. . . .”

A lawsuit by Palantir investor KT4 Partners alleges that Palantir is illegally blocking investors from selling shares in the company and that Kennedy’s Disruptive Technology Advisors (DTA) is a key partner and beneficiary of this strategy.

KT4 claims that when it tried to sell its shares of Palantir to a third-party, Palantir would have DTA contact the third-party and convince them to have Palantir sells them the shares directly instead. DTA would then collect a commission.

The central dynamic in the allegations of plaintiff (and Palantir investor) KT4 is set forth as follows: ” . . . . But remarkably, KT4 claims that when Palantir receives information from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that information to contact the buyer and persuade them instead to buy shares directly from the company or from certain Palantir insiders. One particular broker, Disruptive Technology Advisers, or DTA, repeatedly gets commissions from these sales, even when it ‘performed no legitimate work,’ KT4 claims. KT4 says it experienced interference by Palantir when it tried to sell shares to Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMorgan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 notified Palantir of the planned sale, Palantir turned around and instructed DTA to ‘take the opportunity, on Palantir’s behalf,’and arrange a sale from Palantir to Highbridge instead, according to the lawsuit. . . .”

In FTR #946, we examined Cambridge Analytica, its Trump and Steve Bannon-linked tech firm that harvested Facebook data on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Peter Thiel’s Palantir was apparently deeply involved with Cambridge Analytica’s gaming of personal data harvested from Facebook in order to engineer an electoral victory for Trump, setting the GOP campaign to control the Supreme Court in a deeper, broader context.

Thiel was an early investor in Facebook, at one point was its largest shareholder and is still one of its largest shareholders. ” . . . . It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook. ‘There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,’ said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday. . . . The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook. . . .”

Program Highlights Include:

  1. Review of Peter Thiel’s high regard for Carl Schmitt: “. . . . a Nazi and the Third Reich’s preeminent legal theorist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspiring throwback to a pre-Enlightenment age, who exalts struggle and insists that the discovery of enemies is the foundation of politics. . .” 
  2. Review of Peter Thiel’s early legal experience with Sullivan & Cromwell, the Dulles law firm.
  3. A recounting of the role of John Foster Dulles and Sullivan & Cromwell’s roles in the formation of I.G. Farben.
  4. Review of Thiel’s German heritage and his father’s probable role with one of the I.G. successor companies.

1a. The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank. In FTR #919, we analyzed a New York Times article highlighting Donald Trump’s altogether opaque real estate developments and evidence that those projects had significant links to elements of the Bormann capital network.

In that program we set forth the primary role of Deutsche Bank in financing Trump’s real estate projects.

” . . . While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter. That doesn’t include at least another $1 billion in loan commitments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affiliated entities. The long-standing connection makes Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. operation and has been grappling with reputational problems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the financial institution with probably the strongest ties to the controversial New York businessman. . . .”

The fact that Deutsche Bank is the primary financial backer of “Trump Incorporated” is of primary importance. The bank is central to the Bormann capital network.

Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Manning; Copyright 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stuart Inc.; ISBN 0-8184-0309-8; p. 139.

“. . . . When Bormann gave the order for his representatives to resume purchases of American corporate stocks, it was usually done through the neutral countries of Switzerland and Argentina. From foreign exchange funds on deposit in Swiss banks and in Deutsche Sudamerikanishe Bank, the Buenos Aires branch of Deutsche Bank, large demand deposits were placed in the principal money-center banks of New York City; National City (now Citibank), Chase (now Chase Manhattan N.A.), Manufacturers and Hanover (now manufacturers Hanover Trust), Morgan Guaranty, and Irving Trust. Such deposits are interest-free and the banks can invest this money as they wish, thus turning tidy profits for themselves. In return, they provide reasonable services such as the purchase of stocks and transfer or payment of money on demand by customers of Deutsche bank such as representatives of the Bormann business organizations and and Martin Bormann himself, who has demand accounts in three New York City banks. They continue to do so. The German investment in American corporations from these sources exceeded $5 billion and made the Bormann economic structure a web of power and influence. The two German-owned banks of Spain, Banco Aleman Transatlantico (now named Banco Comercial Transatlantico), and Banco Germanico de la America del Sur, S.A., a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank served to channel German money from Spain to South America, where further investments were made. . . .”

1b. Bormann’s FBI file revealed that he had been banking under his own name in New York for some time.

Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Manning; Copyright 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stuart Inc.; ISBN 0-8184-0309-8; p. 205.

. . . . The file revealed that he had been banking under his own name from his office in Germany in Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires since 1941; that he held one joint account with the Argentinian dictator Juan Peron, and on August 4, 5 and 14, 1967, had written checks on demand accounts in first National City Bank (Overseas Division) of New York, The Chase Manhattan Bank, and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., all cleared through Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires. . . . 

1c. The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank.

Furthermore, jurists who clerked for Anthony Kennedy figure prominently in Trump’s judicial appointments:

  1. ” . . . . He [Trump] picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Then, after Justice Gorsuch’s nomination was announced, a White House official singled out two candidates for the next Supreme Court vacancy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. The two judges had something in common: They had both clerked for Justice Kennedy. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In the meantime, as the White House turned to stocking the lower courts, it did not overlook Justice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nominated three of them to federal appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scudder, both of whom have been confirmed, and Eric Murphy, the Ohio solicitor general, whom Mr. Trump nominated to the Sixth Circuit this month. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin . . . . 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. . . .”

“Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening” by Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman; The New York Times; 06/28/2018.

 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. . . .

. . . .When Mr. Trump took office last year, he already had a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, the one created by the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. But Mr. Trump dearly wanted a second vacancy, one that could transform the court for a generation or more. So he used the first opening to help create the second one. He picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat. . . .

. . . .Then, after Justice Gorsuch’s nomination was announced, a White House official singled out two candidates for the next Supreme Court vacancy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati.

The two judges had something in common: They had both clerked for Justice Kennedy.

In the meantime, as the White House turned to stocking the lower courts, it did not overlook Justice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nominated three of them to federal appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scudder, both of whom have been confirmed, and Eric Murphy, the Ohio solicitor general, whom Mr. Trump nominated to the Sixth Circuit this month. . . .

. . . . 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. . . .

1d.  After Kennedy left Deutsche Bank in 2009 he went on to become co-CEO LNR Property LLC. LNR Property saved Jared Kushner’s midtown Manhattan property in 2011:

  1. ” . . . . from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Property LLC with Tobin Cobb. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . According the New York Times, in 2007 Kushner Companies purchased ‘an aluminum-clad office tower in Midtown Manhattan, for a record price of $1.8 billion.’ At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was ‘considered a classic example of reckless underwriting. The transaction was so highly leveraged that the cash flow from rents amounted to only 65 percent of the debt service.’ . . .”
  3.  ” . . . Who came to the rescue? None other than LNR Property, the company whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. According to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kushner and LNR ‘reached a possible agreement with LNR Property, a firm specializing in restructuring troubled debt and which oversees the mortgage, that would allow him to retain control of the tower by modifying the terms of the $1.2 billion mortgage tied to the office portion of the building.’ . . .”

“The Kennedy, Kushner, and Trump Connection: A Curious Conversation and A Business Deal” by C’Zar Bernstein & Gabe Rusk; Medium; 03/01/2017.

. . . . Justice Kennedy has two very successful sons in their own right, Gregory and Justin Kennedy. Gregory Kennedy, a Stanford Law graduate (a Stanford man like his father), was named CEO of Disruptive Technology Advisers in October of 2016. According to his LinkedIn page: Disruptive Technology Advisors is a “Los Angeles based merchant bank with an exclusive focus on mid to late stage growth companies.” . . . .

Justin Kennedy, a graduate of UCLA and Stanford(again like his father), has spent his career in the world of banking, investment, and, interestingly, real estate. In particular, from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Property LLC with Tobin Cobb. In the world of high-stakes NYC real estate it would be fairly improbable that the Trump or Kushner groups, monoliths in their own right, would not have mingled or done business with the LNR at some point in time. We were not surprised, therefore, to discover that there is a likely connection. Here’s what we know:

According the New York Times, in 2007 Kushner Companies purchased “an aluminum-clad office tower in Midtown Manhattan, for a record price of $1.8 billion.” At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was “considered a classic example of reckless underwriting. The transaction was so highly leveraged that the cash flow from rents amounted to only 65 percent of the debt service.” The Times continues:

“As many real estate specialists predicted, the deal ran into trouble. Instead of rising, rents declined as the recession took hold, and new leases were scarce. In 2010, the loan was transferred to a special servicer on the assumption that a default would occur once reserve funds being used to subsidize the shortfall were bled dry. But the story may yet have a happy ending for Kushner, a family-owned business that moved its headquarters from Florham Park, N.J., to 666 Fifth, its first major acquisition in Manhattan.”

Who came to the rescue? None other than LNR Property, the company whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. According to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kushner and LNR “reached a possible agreement with LNR Property, a firm specializing in restructuring troubled debt and which oversees the mortgage, that would allow him to retain control of the tower by modifying the terms of the $1.2 billion mortgage tied to the office portion of the building.” A spokesman for Mr. Kushner told the Wall Street Journal in March of 2011 that “[t]he Kushner’s are ready and willing to invest more money into the property as soon as they can come to mutually satisfactory terms with the servicing agent.” In that same article Kushner’s father-in-law and the future President commented on the negotiations with Justin Kennedy’s company. Speaking about the deal, Trump told the WSJ that Kushner is “a very smart young man…I think it (loan renegotiations) will come out well for him and everybody.” At this point there is no doubt that there was a direct business relationship between LNR and Kushner Companies at the time Justin Kennedy and Jared Kushner were both CEO. Even the future President was aware of the deal and commented on its respective merits. (That being said, it is not impossible that Jared Kushner and Justin Kennedy did not meet in connection with the specific deal in question; however, given the stakes involved it does seem more than likely that the two CEO’s would have interacted as negotiations were being conducted.)

The connections between Kushner, Kennedy, and Trump do not end there. Coincidentally, in 2011, the year in which some of these negotiations took place, Justin Kennedy for the first time was ranked on the New York Observer’s 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate at #36. Donald Trump clocked in at #12. The New York Observer was owned at the time by none other than Jared Kushner himself. . . .

1e. Following the nomination by President Trump of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, we get confirmation that Trump got Kennedy to resign by agreeing to replace him with Kennedy’s former clerk Kavanaugh:

“It Was Always Kavanaugh: After Meeting With Kennedy, Trump Was Set On His Pick” by Nicole Lafond; Talking Points Memo; 07/10/2018

While the White House was successful for the most part in keeping President Donald Trump’s SCOTUS pick under wraps for the past two weeks, Trump was essentially decided on his nominee after Justice Anthony Kennedy told him he would retire in a meeting, Politico reported.

According to aides close to the White House who spoke to Politico, in that meeting Kennedy recommended Trump pick Brett Kavanaugh, who had served as a former law clerk to Kennedy. While Trump was reportedly already interested in Kavanaugh before that discussion with Kennedy, the retiring jurist’s recommendation helped seal the deal. . . .

2. The links between TrumpWorld and Anthony Kennedy’s sons is deeper still. Kennedy’s other son Gregory, has long-standing ties to Trump Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, whom we first analyzed in FTR #718.

” . . . . . . . . Kennedy’s seat, meantime, seemed destined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glowing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles, and whose other adult child has connections to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, most recently when the Kennedy firm Disruptive Technology Advisers worked with Thiel’s Palantir Technologies. . . .”

“How a Private Meeting with Kennedy Helped Trump Get to ‘Yes’ on Kavanaugh” by Christopher Cadelago, Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia; Politico; 07/09/2018.

After Justice Anthony Kennedy told President Donald Trump he would relinquish his seat on the Supreme Court, the president emerged from his private meeting with the retiring jurist focused on one candidate to name as his successor: Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy’s former law clerk.

Trump, according to confidants and aides close to the White House, has become increasingly convinced that “the judges,” as he puts it, or his administration’s remaking of the federal judiciary in its conservative image, is central to his legacy as president. And he credits Kennedy, who spent more than a decade at the center of power on the court, for helping give him the opportunity.

So even as Trump dispatched his top lawyers to comb though Kavanaugh’s rulings and quizzed allies about whether he was too close to the Bush family, potentially a fatal flaw, the president was always leaning toward accepting Kennedy’s partiality for Kavanaugh while preserving the secret until his formal announcement, sources with knowledge of his thinking told POLITICO. . . .

. . . . Kennedy’s seat, meantime, seemed destined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glowing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles, and whose other adult child has connections to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, most recently when the Kennedy firm Disruptive Technology Advisers worked with Thiel’s Palantir Technologies. . . .

3.  As the following article from last year about the Trump/Kennedy family ties notes, Gregory Kennedy and Peter Thiel are more than just business associates. They went to Stanford Law School together and served as president of the Federalist Society in back-to-back years.

“Trump’s Hidden Back Channel to Justice Kennedy: Their Kids” by Shane Goldmacher; Politico; 04/06/2017

. . . . Another is through Kennedy’s other son, Gregory, and Trump’s Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel. They went to Stanford Law School together and served as president of the Federalist Society in back-to-back years, according to school records. More recently, Kennedy’s firm, Disruptive Technology Advisers, has worked with Thiel’s company Palantir Technologies.

In fact, during the early months of the Trump administration, Gregory Kennedy has worked at NASA as a senior financial adviser as part of the so-called “beachhead” team. . .

Alex Karp

4. Gregory Kennedy’s DTA has an unusually close relationship with Palantir, a company that has helped the Trump administration.

Kennedy’s DTA has other personal connections to Palantir. Alex Fishman and Alex Davis, two other DTA founders, “enjoyed a very close relationship” with Palantir co-founder Alex Karp, according to the lawsuit.

It should be noted that the alleged secrecy with which Palantir treats its operating and investing information is characteristic of Bormann organizations. A closeted, insiders-only operating ethic serves the need for this consummately powerful organization to maintain a relatively low profile, even as it gains power, influence and wealth.

” . . . . Yet Palantir — whose stock changes hands only through private trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed information about its business private. . . .”

A lawsuit by Palantir investor KT4 Partners alleges that Palantir is illegally blocking investors from selling shares in the company and that Kennedy’s Disruptive Technology Advisors (DTA) is a key partner and beneficiary of this strategy.

KT4 claims that when it tried to sell its shares of Palantir to a third-party, Palantir would have DTA contact the third-party and convince them to have Palantir sells them the shares directly instead. DTA would then collect a commission.

The central dynamic in the allegations of plaintiff (and Palantir investor) KT4 is set forth as follows: ” . . . . But remarkably, KT4 claims that when Palantir receives information from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that information to contact the buyer and persuade them instead to buy shares directly from the company or from certain Palantir insiders. One particular broker, Disruptive Technology Advisers, or DTA, repeatedly gets commissions from these sales, even when it ‘performed no legitimate work,’ KT4 claims. KT4 says it experienced interference by Palantir when it tried to sell shares to Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMorgan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 notified Palantir of the planned sale, Palantir turned around and instructed DTA to ‘take the opportunity, on Palantir’s behalf,’and arrange a sale from Palantir to Highbridge instead, according to the lawsuit. . . .”

“A Silicon Valley Giant Blocked Its Investors From Selling Their Shares, Lawsuit Claims” by William Alden; BuzzFeed News; 03/17/2017

Palantir Technologies, one of the most valuable startups in Silicon Valley, has deprived investors of basic information about its business and repeatedly hindered efforts by investors to sell their shares, according to a blistering lawsuit filed by a longtime investor.

In addition to keeping at least some shareholders in the dark about its financial performance, Palantir has “engaged in a pattern and practice” of attempting to thwart their attempts to sell stock, according to the lawsuit, filed by investment firm KT4 Partners. Instead of letting these investors sell shares, Palantir has steered their sale opportunities to itself or its executives, while showering a favored brokerage firm with commissions even when the firm does no work at all, the lawsuit claims.

KT4 Partners first bought Palantir shares over a decade ago and is seeking to compel Palantir to hand over financial records, which it says are needed to understand the value of its investment. Further, KT4 claims it needs this information to investigate whether Palantir or its executives have engaged in “improper and illegal conduct” to harm minority shareholders. The lawsuit was filed under seal last week in the Delaware Court of Chancery; a partially redacted version was released on Monday and is reported here for the first time. . . .

. . . . Co-founded in 2004 by the billionaire Peter Thiel, who is now advising President Donald Trump, Palantir analyzes data for government agencies and major corporations. It has a $20 billion valuation, making it the third most highly valued startup in Silicon Valley, behind only Uber and Airbnb. Yet Palantir — whose stock changes hands only through private trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed information about its business private. A report by BuzzFeed News last year gave an unprecedented, though limited, account of its commercial operations.

The lawsuit, a highly unusual step for a startup investor, follows efforts by KT4 to obtain business information through other means. KT4 made a written demand last August to inspect Palantir’s books and records, the lawsuit says. But then, according to the lawsuit, Palantir retroactively amended its investors’ rights agreement “for the sole and express purpose” of avoiding disclosure obligations. . . .

. . . . Palantir is under increasing pressure from its shareholders, a number of whom have held its stock for a decade or more and are anxiously awaiting a payday. Former employees, who received a major part of their pay in stock options, have struggled to cash out, despite limited share purchase offers arranged by the company. Last fall, in a reversal of his longtime refusal to pursue an IPO, Palantir CEO Alex Karp said at a tech conference, “We’re now positioning the company so we could go public.”

This statement by Karp has a previously undisclosed backstory, according to the lawsuit: KT4 says it came after a formal request by the investor for information on whether Palantir had considered an IPO.

KT4 says its stake in Palantir is worth over $60 million — a significant sum by many measures, but small in the context of Palantir, which has raised more than $2 billion from investors. When KT4 tried to sell portions of its stake, Palantir repeatedly interfered, the lawsuit claims. Palantir, following a common practice in Silicon Valley, requires that any sellers of its stock seek the company’s approval for the transaction; companies do this to limit and manage ownership of their shares.

But remarkably, KT4 claims that when Palantir receives information from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that information to contact the buyer and persuade them instead to buy shares directly from the company or from certain Palantir insiders. One particular broker, Disruptive Technology Advisers, or DTA, repeatedly gets commissions from these sales, even when it “performed no legitimate work,” KT4 claims.

KT4 says it experienced interference by Palantir when it tried to sell shares to Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMorgan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 notified Palantir of the planned sale, Palantir turned around and instructed DTA to “take the opportunity, on Palantir’s behalf,” and arrange a sale from Palantir to Highbridge instead, according to the lawsuit.

But when Alex Fishman, a founder of DTA, met with a senior managing director at Highbridge, the hedge fund executive said he would not break his deal with KT4, telling Fishman to leave his office, according to the lawsuit. The situation escalated when Karp, the Palantir CEO, learned of Highbridge’s affiliation with JPMorgan — a very important customer of Palantir’s — and that the bank’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, “would be asked to contact Karp directly to express displeasure” at these tactics, the lawsuit says. Karp then allegedly let the sale by KT4 go through.

Later, in December 2015, Palantir and DTA had more success in impeding a sale of shares by KT4 and other investors to a Chinese investment company, whose name is redacted in the document, the lawsuit says. DTA, representing Palantir, contacted the buyer and led it to believe that it was required to buy the shares directly from Palantir, ultimately leading the buyer to call off the deal with KT4 and the others.

Until KT4 made its recent demand for financial information, Palantir refused to provide financial information to buyers of its shares except through DTA — forcing buyers and sellers to do business with that firm or with Fishman, the lawsuit says.

Even when DTA was not involved in a deal, it still could get paid, according to KT4. Last summer, when UBS Securities was brokering a sale of Palantir shares, Karp demanded that UBS pay 25 cents a share to Fishman and DTA, even though DTA “had performed no work on the transaction” — and UBS agreed to make the payment, the lawsuit says. (KT4 says it learned this from a UBS managing director, but in an interview with BuzzFeed News, a person close to UBS disputed that the bank participated in such a sale and denied that UBS agreed to pay DTA.)

Fishman and Alex Davis, the other DTA founder, recently “enjoyed a very close relationship” with Karp, according to the lawsuit. (According to Fishman’s LinkedIn profile, he sold his half of DTA to Davis last week and no longer works there.) . . .

. . . . Even as it blocks sales by smaller investors, Palantir has allowed Karp and Thiel to sell shares, according to the lawsuit. KT4 claims that these sales fly in the face of rights it has as an investor to participate in such transactions. . . .

5. We have covered Peter Thiel in numerous programs, beginning with our warning about him in FTR #718.

Some of the points we have made about him include:

  1. His family background in the Frankfurt (Germany) chemical business. Probably I.G. Farben/Bormann, in that context.
  2. His primary role in Palantir, apparently the maker of the PRISM software at the epicenter of L’Affaire Snowden.
  3. His role as the primary financier of Ron Paul’s super PAC. (Paul is an unabashed white supremacist, joined at the hip with David Duke and the neo-Confederate movement. He was the Presidential candidate of choice for Eddie “The Friendly Spook” Snowden and Julian Assange.) Snowden’s first attorney and the attorney for the Snowden family–Bruce Fein–was the chief legal counsel for Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential campaign.
  4. Thiel’s belief system is antediluvian: . . . . ‘I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,’ Thiel wrote in a 2009 manifesto published by the libertarian Cato Institute. ‘Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.’ . . . .”

Thiel began his professional life as an attorney–working for Sullivan & Cromwell. His leadership of Stanford’s Federalist Society (Gregory Kennedy lead the group as well) raises some interesting questions about Thiel’s legal point of view.

We note that his apocalyptic, anti-Enlightenment ideology draws on, among other influences, Carl Schmitt. Arguably the prime mover behind the German Conservative Revolution, Schmitt was also: “. . . . a Nazi and the Third Reich’s preeminent legal theorist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspiring throwback to a pre-Enlightenment age, who exalts struggle and insists that the discovery of enemies is the foundation of politics. . .”

“Peter Thiel’s Apocalypse” by Scott Lucas; San Francisco Magazine; 11/29 2017.

. . . . If press reports are correct, President Trump is considering appointing Thiel to be chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board—a position previously held by such establishment sages as Brent Scowcroft and Chuck Hagel. This would make the 50-year-old entrepreneur one of the top executive branch advisers on America’s intelligence agencies. And it would be one of the most peculiar high-level appointments in American political history. . . .

. . . . For Thiel, Osama bin Laden is a kind of return of the religious repressed, an evil eruption from an archaic world we thought had vanished. “Today mere self-preservation forces all of us to look at the world anew, to think strange new thoughts, and thereby to awaken from that very long and profitable period of intellectual slumber and amnesia that is so misleadingly called the Enlightenment,” he writes.

To explore these “strange new thoughts,” Thiel turns to German legal scholar Carl Schmitt—a brilliant thinker who was also a Nazi and the Third Reich’s preeminent legal theorist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspiring throwback to a pre-Enlightenment age, who exalts struggle and insists that the discovery of enemies is the foundation of politics. . . . .

6. Thiel’s brief legal career was at Sullivan & Cromwell, the old Dulles law firm.

“PayPal’s Thiel Scores 230 Percent Gain with Soros-Style Fund” by Deepak Gopinath [Bloomberg.com]; CanadianHedgeWatch.com; 12/4/2006.

. . . After collecting his law degree, Thiel clerked for U.S. Federal Circuit Judge Larry Edmondson in Atlanta and then joined Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York. He lasted seven months and three days before quitting out of boredom, he says.

7. In FTR #946, we examined Cambridge Analytica, its Trump and Steve Bannon-linked tech firm that harvested Facebook data on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Palantir was apparently deeply involved with Cambridge Analytica’s gaming of personal data harvested from Facebook in order to engineer an electoral victory for Trump. Thiel was an early investor in Facebook, at one point was its largest shareholder and is still one of its largest shareholders. ” . . . . It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook. ‘There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,’ said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday. . . . The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook. . . .”

“Spy Contractor’s Idea Helped Cambridge Analytica Harvest Facebook Data” by NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and MATTHEW ROSENBERG; The New York Times; 03/27/2018

As a start-up called Cambridge Analytica sought to harvest the Facebook data of tens of millions of Americans in summer 2014, the company received help from at least one employee at Palantir Technologies, a top Silicon Valley contractor to American spy agencies and the Pentagon. It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

Cambridge ultimately took a similar approach. By early summer, the company found a university researcher to harvest data using a personality questionnaire and Facebook app. The researcher scraped private data from over 50 million Facebook users — and Cambridge Analytica went into business selling so-called psychometric profiles of American voters, setting itself on a collision course with regulators and lawmakers in the United States and Britain.

The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook.

“There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,” said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday. . . .

. . . .The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook. . . .

. . . . Documents and interviews indicate that starting in 2013, Mr. Chmieliauskas began corresponding with Mr. Wylie and a colleague from his Gmail account. At the time, Mr. Wylie and the colleague worked for the British defense and intelligence contractor SCL Group, which formed Cambridge Analytica with Mr. Mercer the next year. The three shared Google documents to brainstorm ideas about using big data to create sophisticated behavioral profiles, a product code-named “Big Daddy.”

A former intern at SCL — Sophie Schmidt, the daughter of Eric Schmidt, then Google’s executive chairman — urged the company to link up with Palantir, according to Mr. Wylie’s testimony and a June 2013 email viewed by The Times.

“Ever come across Palantir. Amusingly Eric Schmidt’s daughter was an intern with us and is trying to push us towards them?” one SCL employee wrote to a colleague in the email.

. . . . But he [Wylie] said some Palantir employees helped engineer Cambridge’s psychographic models.

“There were Palantir staff who would come into the office and work on the data,” Mr. Wylie told lawmakers. “And we would go and meet with Palantir staff at Palantir.” He did not provide an exact number for the employees or identify them.

Palantir employees were impressed with Cambridge’s backing from Mr. Mercer, one of the world’s richest men, according to messages viewed by The Times. And Cambridge Analytica viewed Palantir’s Silicon Valley ties as a valuable resource for launching and expanding its own business.

In an interview this month with The Times, Mr. Wylie said that Palantir employees were eager to learn more about using Facebook data and psychographics. Those discussions continued through spring 2014, according to Mr. Wylie.

Mr. Wylie said that he and Mr. Nix visited Palantir’s London office on Soho Square. One side was set up like a high-security office, Mr. Wylie said, with separate rooms that could be entered only with particular codes. The other side, he said, was like a tech start-up — “weird inspirational quotes and stuff on the wall and free beer, and there’s a Ping-Pong table.”

Mr. Chmieliauskas continued to communicate with Mr. Wylie’s team in 2014, as the Cambridge employees were locked in protracted negotiations with a researcher at Cambridge University, Michal Kosinski, to obtain Facebook data through an app Mr. Kosinski had built. The data was crucial to efficiently scale up Cambridge’s psychometrics products so they could be used in elections and for corporate clients. . . .

8. A recounting of the role of John Foster Dulles and Sullivan & Cromwell’s roles in the formation of I.G. Farben.

The Brothers: John Foster Dulls, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer; St. Martin Griffin [SC]; Copyright 2013 by Stephen Kinzer; ISBN 978-1-250-05312-1; pp. 49-52.

. . . . Foster had helped design the Dawes Plan of 1924, which restructured Germany’s reparation payments in ways that opened up huge new markets for American banks, and later that year he arranged for five of them to lend $100 million to German borrowers. In the seven years that followed, he and his partners brokered another $900 million in loans to Germany–the equivalent of more than $15 billion in early-twenty-first century dollars. This made him the preeminent salesman of German bonds in the United States, probably the world. He sharply rejected critics who argued that American banks should invest more inside the United States and protested when the State Department sought to restrict loans to Germany that were unrelated to reparation payments or that supported cartels or monopolies.

Foster made much money building and advising cartels, which are based on agreements among competing firms to control supplies, fix prices, and close their supply and distribution networks to outsiders. Reformers in many countries railed against these cartels, but Foster defended them as guarantors of stability that ensured profits while protecting economies from unpredictable swings. Two that he shaped became global forces.

Among Foster’s premier clients was the New Jersey-based International Nickel Company, for which he was not only counsel but also a director and member of the executive board. In the early 1930s, he steered it, along with its Canadian affiliate, into a cartel with France’s two major nickel producers. In 1934, he brought the biggest German nickel producer, I.G. Farben, into the cartel. This gave Nazi Germany access to the cartel’s resources.

“Without Dulles,” according to a study of Sullivan & Cromwell, “Germany would have lacked any negotiating strength with [International Nickel], which controlled the world’s supply of nickel, a crucial ingredient in stainless steel and armor plate.”

I.G. Farben was also one of the world’s largest chemical companies–it would produce the Zyklon B gas used at Nazi death camps–and as Foster was bringing it into the nickel cartel, he also helped it establish a global chemical cartel. He was a board member and legal counsel for another chemical producer, the Solvay conglomerate, based in Belgium. During the 1930s, he guided Solvay, I. G. Farben, the American firm Allied Chemical & Dye, and several other companies into a chemical cartel just as potent as the one he had organized for nickel producers.

In mid-1931, a consortium of American banks, eager to safeguard their investments in Germany, persuaded the German government to accept a loan of nearly $500 million to prevent default. Foster was their agent. His ties to the German government tightened after Hitler took power at the beginning of 1933 and appointed Foster’s old friend Hjalmar Schacht as minister of economics.

Allen [Dulles] had introduced the two men a decade earlier, when he was a diplomat in Berlin and Foster passed through regularly on Sullivan & Cromwell business. They were immediately drawn to each other, Schacht spoke fluent English and understood the United States well. Like Dulles, he projected an air of brisk authority. He was tall, gaunt, and always erect, with close-cropped hair and high, tight collars. Both men had considered entering the clergy before turning their powerful minds toward more remunerative pursuits. Each admired the culture that had produced the other. Both believed that a resurgent Germany would stand against Bolshevism. Mobilizing American capital to finance its rise was their common interest.

Working with Schacht, Foster helped the National Socialist state find rich sources of financing in the United States for its public agencies, banks, and industries. The two men shaped complex restructurings of German loan obligations at several “debt conferences” in Berlin–conferences that were officially among bankers, but were in fact closely guided by the German and American governments–and came up with new formulas that made it easier for the Germans to borrow money from American banks. Sullivan & Cromwell floated the first American bonds issued by the giant German steelmaker and arms manufacturer Krupp A.G., extended I.G. Farben’s global reach, and fought successfully to block Canada’s effort to restrict the export of steel to German arms makers. According to one history, the firm “represented several provincial governments, some large industrial combines, a number of big American companies with interests in the Reich, and some rich individuals.” By another account it “thrived on its cartels and collusion with the new Nazi regime.” The columnist Drew Pearson gleefully listed the German clients of Sullivan & Cromwell who had contributed money to the Nazis, and described Foster as chief agent for “the banking circles that rescued Adolf Hitler from the financial depths and set up his Nazi party as a going concern.”

Although the relationship between Foster and Schacht began well and thrived for years, it ended badly. Schacht contributed decisively to German rearmament and publicly urged Jews to “realize that their influence in Germany has disappeared for all time.” Although he later broke with Hitler and left the government, he would be tried at Nuremberg for “crimes against peace.” He was acquitted, but the chief American prosecutor, Robert Jackson, called him “the facade of starched responsibility, who in the early days provided the window dressing, the bait for the hesitant.” He baited no one more successfully than Foster.

During the mid-1930s, through a series of currency maneuvers, discounted buybacks, and other forms of financial warfare, Germany effectively defaulted on its debts to American investors. Foster represented the investors in unsuccessful appeals to Germany, many of them addressed to his old friend Schacht. Clients who had followed Sullivan & Cromwell’s advice to buy German bonds lost fortunes. That advice, according to one study, “cost Americans a billion dollars because Schacht seduced Dulles into supporting Germany for far too long.’ . . . .

. . . . Foster had clear financial reasons to collaborate with the Nazi regime, and his ideological reason–Hitler was fiercely anti-Bolshevik–was equally compelling. In later years, scholars would ask about his actions in the world. Did he do it out of a desire to protect economic privilege, or out of anti-Communist fervor? The best answer may be that to him there was no difference. In his mind defending multinational business and fighting Bolshevism were the same thing.

Since 1933, all letters written from the German offices of Sullivan & Cromwell had ended, as required by German regulations, with the salutation Heil Hitler! That did not disturb Foster. He churned out magazine and newspaper articles asserting that the “dynamic” countries of the world–Germany, Italy, and Japan–“feel within themselves potentialities which are suppressed,” and that Hitler’s semi-secret rearmament project simply showed that “Germany, by unilateral action, has now taken back her freedom of action.” . . . .

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #1017 Supreme Court Trump Card: Family Trump, Family [Anthony] Kennedy and Peter Thiel”

  1. Dave, you briefly link to FTR #757 in the above text but I think it’s so important that it should also be highlighted by a comment. Listeners would do very well to review that program and the network behind Palantir.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-757-the-adventures-of-eddie-the-friendly-spook-part-4-dramatis-personae-part-4-the-gruppenhobbit-and-the-underground-reich/

    Your point on the probable – but denied – link between all of the PRISM software in use around the world is excellent. The name Palantir was inspired by the magic crystals in Tolkien’s LOTR trilogy which were placed in different kingdoms but all linked together allowing their users to connect and share information, knowingly or not. That type of inspiration leads me to believe the denials of the link are just prevarication.

    Posted by Sampson | August 3, 2018, 6:14 am

Post a comment