there’s a rabbit hole at the end: ‘oscar health’, owned by jared’s brother, josh

It’s now the very ugly Pindo pandemic
Wayne Madsen, Apr 10 2020

The world will not soon forget the despicable nature of the Trump administration during the worst global pandemic since the 1918 flu. Trump, aided and abetted by a rogues’ gallery of misfits, hyper-xenophobes and egotistical homosexuals, has all but ruined any good will that Pindostan still maintained in the world prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Relegated to pariah nation status by the combined efforts of Trump; the militantly, arrogantly homosexual Acting DNI Richard Grenell; the swaggering warhawk Sec State Mike Pompeo; and the Nazi-like presidential counselors Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller, Pindostan has made enemies among friends and vassals alike by adopting a go-it-alone policy in dealing with COVID-19. Two former hosts for Pindo Navy installations, Barbados and Newfoundland, have turned a jaundiced eye toward Pindostan, despite decades of fond memories of the Pindo naval presence and Pindos in general. The Trump administration’s diversion of ventilators and other critical medical supplies from Barbados and Newfoundland came as a profound shock to their residents. According to various news reports, Pindostan seized 20 ventilators donated to Barbados by the pop music star Rihanna, who hails from there. Rihanna had purchased the ventilators for $700k before they were confiscated on the orders of a medical supply task force appointed by Donald Trump and headed by his Jewish Mafia-connected son-in-law Jared Kushner. The same Trump task force has also been behind the pirating of medical supplies including ventilators destined for Germany, France, Canada, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and other countries and states. The Barbados Ministry of Health is investigating the theft of the ventilators, which came as Barbados registered its first death from COVID-19, an 81-year old man. Barbados will long remember that in a time of crisis it was Pindostan that stole its medical equipment, and Cuba that dispatched 100 intensive care specialists to the island. For Barbados’ Health Minister Jeffrey Bostic, the comparison could not have been more tellingt. As he was investigating the Pindo theft of Barbadian ventilators, he was greeting 100 Cuban medical personnel, including doctors, who arrived in the country to support local medical teams deluged with COVID-19 patients. Bostic said:

We thank the people and government of Cuba for their support in this time of great demand for their medical services.

Cuba has dispatched medical teams throughout the world, including to the British Virgin Islands, Italy, Andorra, Dominica, Belize, Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Jamaica, Surinam, Saint Lucia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Saint Kitts, Nevis and Haiti, even as the Trump administration is tightening its economic blockade of Cuba, including restricting imports of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. Canadian political leaders including PM Trudeau have condemned Trump’s ban on the export of N95 personal protective masks to Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Ball was particularly critical of the Pindo action, telling AP:

To say that I’m infuriated by the recent actions of Pres Trump of Pindostan is an understatement. I cannot believe for a second that in a time of crisis, Pres Trump would even think about banning key medical supplies to Canada.

Former Gander Mayor Elliott also condemned the Trump administration’s heartless move, saying:

I understand that Pindostan is going through a very dramatic time, especially in New York, and they need a lot of supplies, but we’re fighting an enemy that is just not one state, it’s the whole world. And when we come to those times of tragedy in our life, we need everybody helping each other.

Balls’ and Elliot’s comments came as Newfoundland registered its second death from COVID-19. Conservative Ontario Premier Ford, whose policies and demeanor have been linked to those of Trump, also criticized the White House, saying:

It’s like one of your family members: ok, you go starve and we’ll go feast on the rest of the meal. I’m just so disappointed right now.

Foreign and domestic condemnation of the Trump-Kushner swindle comes as Demagog Congress critturs want to probe Kushner’s very suspicious “Project Airbridge,” which has seen the Pindo purchase, transport to Pindostan and stockpiling of ventilators, N95 masks, surgical face masks, gowns, gloves and thermometers. Many of the items have been shipped from China. Instead of going directly into FEMA’s National Strategic Stockpile, the materiel and equipment are reportedly being diverted into the hands of private health-care companies, including Cardinal Health, McKesson, Henry Schein, Owens & Minor, Medlin and more disturbingly Oscar Health, which was founded by Kushner’s brother, Joshua Kushner.

Trump enables Jared Kushner’s coronavirus task force, revealing the dangers of nepotism
Jordan Libowitz, NBC News, Apr 6 2020

The author is communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

According to Pres Trump, Vice Pres Pence is in charge of Pindostan’s response to the coronavirus crisis. This choice was, in itself, controversial since Pence has no real experience in this area and his one attempt at dealing with a public health problem as governor of Indiana turned out very poorly. But what many Pindos don’t know is that an equally unqualified if apparently even more loyal Trump adherent is secretly running his own coronavirus task force, leaving a series of ethics issues in wake. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is running a shadow coronavirus response task force. He’s doing it off the books, with closed-door meetings and private email accounts. Recently, The Atlantic reported that a company co-founded by Kushner’s brother, which used to be partly owned by Jared, developed a government website to direct Pindos to coronavirus testing sites at the government’s request. The website was created and then, for reasons that remain unclear, never went public. This isn’t normal Trump family grift; it is taking place with lives at stake. As the (original) headline of NYT columnist Michelle Goldberg’s column read last week: “Jared Kushner is going to get us all killed.”

Since the website never officially launched, we didn’t find out about it until after the fact. And there’s still much we don’t know, mainly whether Kushner was involved in trying to direct government business to his family (Oscar Health says it wasn’t paid for the project). While personal and family benefit is the modus operandi of the Trump administration, this goes beyond Trump’s trying to host the G7 summit at his struggling Doral golf resort. And what’s worse, Kushner is going out of his way not to create government records of his actions, in an apparent violation of multiple laws.

Because this task force isn’t operating publicly, we don’t actually know what Trump’s son-in-law is doing. Think about that. The nation is in crisis, much of it in lockdown, and the man with the president’s ear is essentially operating without accountability. This doesn’t prove that anything nefarious is going on. But if you were going to try to steer emergency government funds into your family’s bank account without people finding out, this is how you’d do it. What we do know about Kushner’s efforts don’t exactly inspire confidence. The father-in-law of Jared’s brother posted in a Facebook group for doctors:

I have direct channel to person now in charge at White House and have been asked for recommendations.

This is the government equivalent of the kid who doesn’t read the book and writes his book report based on the back cover during the class it’s due. But it also suggests how closely Jared’s brother is tied to the government’s response. Jared Kushner isn’t concerned with creating a firewall between his work and his family, just the opposite. This isn’t even the first time we’ve seen potential issues with Kushner’s position and a company co-founded by his brother. For one, he’s had a lot of problems with his financial disclosures. One of the more troubling was failing to disclose his co-ownership of Cadre, a real estate investment startup that likely benefited from the opportunity zones program his wife, Ivanka Trump, championed. After refusing to divest from Cadre for years despite controversy, Kushner got permission in March to sell his stake and take advantage of a tax benefit meant to help people divest from assets in which they have a conflict of interest. Why did it take him so long? Perhaps not coincidentally, the value of his shares rose while he refused to divest. This also isn’t the only way the Kushner family could benefit from the pandemic. While the coronavirus stimulus package blocks money from going to support the president and members of his family, including Kushner, the Kushner family business could benefit from a provision that lets apartment building owners pause federal payments on federal mortgages on low-income housing. And real estate investors (like the Kushners) with major on-paper losses can now stretch them out over years for a big tax break. We tend to have a short attention span when it comes to Trump family scandals, but Kushner’s past few years prove he is unqualified to be running anything in this administration. Remember that Kushner got his security clearance thanks only to his father-in-law, over the objections of security officers. Rather than use traditional diplomatic channels, Kushner has reportedly communicated with MbS over WhatsApp and even kept Pindo staffers out of his meetings with MbS. Kushner also has a history of conducting business over private email accounts. The Trump administration’s solution to everything seems to just be “put Jared in charge of it.” Kushner is currently tasked in some capacity with solving the coronavirus pandemic, ending the opioid crisis, bringing about peace in the Middle East, reforming the government and running the Trump campaign, all out of his White House office. Which brings us to one last problem. The thing about Kushner running the campaign from the White House is that there’s a law against that, the Hatch Act. While the act has an exemption that does allow some political activity by senior political appointees paid by the White House, the exemption doesn’t apply to him, as he doesn’t take a salary. Following the law should be the absolute minimum for serving in a high position in government. Meanwhile, Trump’s shift in seriousness regarding the coronavirus, according to a former White House official, has been influenced by his campaign advisers’ fears that his lackluster response will soon hurt him with his base. If Kushner is running both the campaign and the coronavirus response, how much is the former influencing the latter? Kushner shouldn’t be in the White House. The Trump administration had to overturn nepotism guidelines just to get him in there. Since he’s been there, he’s confirmed every fear about nepotistic appointments, he’s not qualified to do the job he has, but he keeps getting more and more roles and power, culminating in his new role at the center of the pandemic response, where he is reportedly making life-or-death decisions based on what he hears from “friends.” Meanwhile, he’s been making millions on the side, potentially with the help of his office. The Trump family has repeatedly used the White House to enrich themselves, but this is about more than profits. As the number of coronavirus deaths continues to rise, Jared Kushner’s unqualified, unethical time in the White House has been marked by inaction and personal benefit. And now, it may get people killed.

Kushner Firm Built the Coronavirus Website Trump Promised
Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, Mar 30 2020

On Mar 13, Pres Trump promised Pindos they would soon be able to access a new website that would ask them about their symptoms and direct them to nearby coronavirus testing sites. He said Google was helping. That wasn’t true. But in the following days, Oscar Health, a health-insurance company closely connected to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, developed a government website with the features the president had described. A team of Oscar engineers, project managers and executives spent about five days building a stand-alone website at the government’s request, an Oscar spox told The Atlantic. The company even dispatched two employees from New York to meet in person with federal officials in Faschingstein, the spox said. Then the website was suddenly and mysteriously scrapped. The site would not have helped many Pindos even if it had launched. Today, more than two weeks after the president promised a national network of drive-through test sites, only a handful of such sites have opened, and fewer than 1 million Pindos have been tested. The full extent of Oscar’s work on the project has not been previously reported. The partnership between the administration and the firm suggests that Kushner may have mingled his family’s business interests with his political interests and his role in the administration’s coronavirus response. Kushner’s younger brother Joshua is a co-founder and major investor in Oscar, and Jared Kushner partially owned or controlled Oscar before he joined the White House. The company’s work on the coronavirus website could violate federal ethics laws, several experts said. For the past several weeks, Kushner has led a “shadow task force” on the coronavirus, separate from Vice Pres Pence’s official committee, according to the WaPo. Kushner’s team, composed of federal boxtops allied with Kushner and outside corporate executives, has met in the headquarters of the DHHS. A senior official at that agency called Oscar to ask for its help on Mar 13, the day of Trump’s press conference, the Oscar spox said. Kushner’s group has focused on expanding and publicizing coronavirus testing, especially at drive-through locations. Oscar’s website would have asked users if they were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and surveyed them about other risk factors, including their age and preexisting conditions. It also would have listed a limited number of testing locations nationwide, including some of the drive-through sites that Trump promised. It was designed to look like a government-developed product, provided freely by the DHHS to the Pindo public. Oscar posted the source code for the site to Github, where The Atlantic reviewed it. The site resembled a version of a tool Oscar had already built for its customers in response to the crisis, but it was “adjusted to meet the specifications and requirements set by the federal government,” Jackie Kahn, the Oscar spox, said in an emailed statement. That Oscar had already been working on a coronavirus-testing website when HHS called to ask for help was a coincidence that had nothing to do with Kushner, Kahn suggested. She declined to say whether Oscar had discussed that site with Joshua Kushner or any board members or investors before Trump’s Mar 13 press conference. Kahn said:

Oscar donated its work freely and never expected to be paid for the project. Oscar is not, nor has ever been, a contractor or subcontractor for the government. The work was “all at the direction of HHS. The website never saw the light of day.

That may not matter from an ethics perspective. The ad hoc nature of Kushner’s task force has already collided with federal laws. Oscar’s involvement deepens Kushner’s ethics and conflict-of-interest problems. Jessica Tillipman, an assistant dean at the George Washington University School of Law and an expert on anti-corruption law, told me:

It’s not typical. It’s usually not allowed. Oscar’s relationship with the Trump administration could breach federal law in two ways. First, companies are generally not supposed to work for the federal government for free, though some exceptions can be made in a national emergency. The concern, when you have some free services, is that it makes the government beholden to the company. More important, any Kushner involvement may have violated the “impartiality rule,” which requires federal employees to refrain from making decisions when they even appear to involve a conflict of interest. The rule also prohibits federal employees from making a decision in which close relatives may have a financial stake. Such a situation would seem to apply to Kushner and Oscar.

In 2013, Jared and Joshua were the “ultimate controlling persons in Oscar’s holding company,” according to a New York State report that Mother Jones dug up earlier this month. When the elder Kushner joined the White House, he disclosed that he had been on the board of Oscar’s holding company from May 2010 to Jan 2017. He also said that he had sold his shares in the holding company for somewhere between $1.2m and $7m. Joshua still holds a stake in the company. When Jared joined the administration, he sold his shares to either Joshua or a trust controlled by their mother, according to his financial disclosures. Kushner did not divest all the assets that he owned jointly with his brother when he joined the White House. Earlier this month, he sold his stake in Cadre, a real-estate investment firm that he owned with Joshua. The stake was worth tens of millions of dollars as recently as last year, Kushner said in his disclosures.Kahn argued:

There was nothing wrong with Oscar’s arrangement with the government. This was the right thing to do, both legally and ethically, and if anyone has any doubt that COVID-19 is an emergency, he’s lost his mind. We are enormously proud of our people who put serving the nation ahead of everything during this time of crisis.

Oscar’s description of its work for the administration has changed over time. Two weeks ago, the company told Business Insider that it had “shared code” with the DHHS, but it did not disclose that it had actually made a website. Last week, Kahn told me in an interview that the company had merely “shrink-wrapped” its code, a piece of jargon that meant it had disconnected the code from its in-house technical platforms so that it could work on other servers. Her statement today admitted that Oscar had gone much further. When viewed earlier today, the URL offered an Amazon Web Services error, suggesting that someone with access to the .gov domain had registered the website. The Department of Health and Human Services declined to produce paperwork authorizing Oscar’s donation of the website work. A DHHS spox said:

Multiple vendors worked on proposals, and we appreciate their work. Ultimately, Apple launched the new tool.

But Apple’s COVID-19 tool is a page on, not a stand-alone government site like the one Oscar built. Oscar’s creation more closely resembled the website Trump described on Mar 13. The site would “determine whether a test is warranted and facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location,” Trump said, adding that Google had 1,700 engineers working on the project. Google, it was quickly revealed, didn’t have any such plans. Google’s parent company is a major investor in Oscar. And Oscar, which has roughly 1,500 employees, did build a site like the one Trump described. The White House declined to comment.

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