Jared and Ivanka are the Tom and Daisy Buchanan of Our Modern Age
Why does Kushner ALWAYS get a pass?
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I still really wonder why people, including Congress, give Jared Kushner a pass. Even now, I notice that there’s little outrage in the media about his testimony to Congress, aired on Thursday night, that he thought White House counsel Pat Cipollone was “whining” when he threatened to resign in light of Trump’s continued claims of a rigged election and plans for a rally on January 6. Oh, and yes—it seems likely that Kushner knew all about the serious issues at stake (after all, Cipollone was “whining” about something), but Kushner says he was too bogged down working on pardons to pay much attention. Because pardons, particularly when they include one for your father, are so much more important than bloodshed involved in storming the Capitol.
Understandably, Trump is the focus of the Jan. 6 hearings, not Kushner. But Trump is—well, Trump. Pretty much everything he does happens in plain sight. There’s not much been said so far in the hearings about his behavior that we don’t already know. But Kushner? Think about the callousness and the self-interest that was revealed by what Kushner said in his interview. A pardon for Dad, among others, was so much more important than rioting, murder, and breaking the Constitution. I have done extensive research on Kushner, and the evidence has always pointed to the very likely possibility that Kushner did not go into the government for public service but for self-service—and, almost daily, this notion gets reinforced, even after the fact.
Many people on both side of the political aisle I’ve spoken to agree with this assessment—and yet, people just shrug. They just don’t care.
And that’s a problem, partly because it’s really, really unfair.
Jared Kushner looks on as Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office on September 11, 2020. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)
As I write this, Kushner faces the ticking clock of Congress’s request to hand over all his correspondence with the Saudi Crown prince MBS both during and after the Trump presidency. (This is because the Saudis have now invested $2 billion with him, after Kushner directed an essentially pro-Saudi foreign policy during the Trump administration—often seemingly at the risk of national security). But—and it’s a big but—Kushner has been told he’s not being accused of wrong-doing. It’s just that Congress wants to see if laws around the business dealings of exiting government officials should be tightened.
Kushner gets this pass, yet other people—well-known still but if perhaps less well-known and influential than Kushner—are being investigated by the FBI right now for allegedly working with foreign countries for money, or the potential of money, especially in the Gulf, without declaring this. This week brought the news of the investigation into General John Allen; I’ve also written about the link between the cases of former ambassador to UAE and Pakistan Richard Olson’s plea deal regarding lobbying of Qatar; the charges against Trump crony and real estate developer Tom Barrack of illegally lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of the UAE and lying to the FBI about it; and charges by the FBI against Trump pal Steve Wynn, who is accused of lying about acting as an unregistered agent for the Chinese. (All except Olson, who has pled guilty to a misdemeanor, have denied wrongdoing.) But the investigations have already cost them all reputationally, regardless of how they pan out.
Yet, despite his ugly headlines, Kushner blithely disappears into his mansions in Miami, his golf-swing, his money—oh and his new book, which, according to the New York Times, he trained for by taking an online course by James Patterson. Think about the implied condescension in that line: Writing is easy! Kushner once told me to my face that he thought all journalists were stupid and that, if they had more than half a brain cell, they’d be doing what he did at the time: real estate.
At least that’s what he was nominally doing.
Some of my real-estate sources back in 2016 who worked with Kushner told me they were fed up with Kushner’s non-involvement in the Kushner family’s real estate business. Kushner was so busy having lunches with people like Rupert Murdoch and Adam Silver that some of his colleagues felt he needed to focus more on the company’s bottom line. And did he know what the bottom line was? “He appeared on some occasions not to know the numbers,” someone with direct knowledge told me. What he was very, very interested in and focused on was his PR. And in that, he was greatly helped by his wife.
I wrote in Kushner, Inc. of the things Kushner did while in office that he ought not:
He ought not to have closed the White House logs.
He ought not to have invited the CEO of Goldman Sachs to the White House when Goldman Sachs was a major investor in a business he had co-founded but not disclosed on his White House disclosure form.
He ought not to have not fully divested.
He ought not to have had a secret private business meeting with a Chinese businessman (now in jail) during the transition.
He ought not to have met with the Russian ambassador by himself and in secret during the transition.
He ought not to have communicated via WhatsApp with the Saudi Crown Prince.
He ought not to have filled out his security clearance forms incorrectly.
He ought not to have approved the blockade of Qatar, where the US airbase is.
And he ought not to have looked down at the pardon pile while the nation’s freedom roiled.
But Jared and Ivanka are just like Tom and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. They do all sorts of things they shouldn’t—and, well, for them, unlike for others, the headache just passes. As a reminder, here’s the line from Gatsby: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Those characters existed in the 1920s when Fitzgerald wrote his masterpiece. One hundred years later, you’d think we should care more about elitist people who behave like that. But, apparently, despite the January 6th hearings, we don’t.