Jared and Ivanka Go for Global...
The couple has already run the country; now do they want the world?
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Spurred by events both at home and abroad, the repositioning of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner is moving at a pace beyond what I’d imagined last week.
In New York, Judge Arthur Engoron has ruled that Ivanka Trump will, in fact, have to testify under oath against her father in the civil fraud suit filed by the New York Attorney General Letitia James. (Today, her brother Don Jr. is expected to start to give testimony).
Ivanka’s public response to the news, so far, has been to post smiling birthday photographs of herself in her new $24 million home wearing a short pink dress surrounded by her children, and husband.
She showed off the birthday flowers she’d received. Not just a few flowers. But a florist’s worth.
The messaging is effective.
Donald who? Real estate business what?
The pictures show that she’s her own person, with her own family and life. Her last name might be Trump, but for right now she self-identifies as all Kushner.
And - incidentally - that means very, very rich. Along with the sumptuous new home, the children are styled in matching clothes; there are catered dinner parties al fresco, and so on….
Lawyers I’ve spoken to are not surprised that her lawyers did not fight Judge Engoron’s decision. To fight the issue further might have signaled something that’s in direct contrast to all her Instagram posts, namely that she has something to hide.
What lawyers for the Attorney General almost certainly want to ask her when she testifies next week is who was involved in deciding the Trump Organization’s inflated valuations (from which, the judge has said, she has benefitted).
Bear in mind Trump’s answer to this has already been: “I didn't get involved in it very much.”
So, you can already hear the lawyers asking: Who did, Ivanka? Who made those decisions?
It’s going to be interesting.
Meanwhile, Jared Kushner continues his completely mesmerizing new role as the self-appointed Senior World Statesman. (Why not? The couple has already run the U.S…).
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last week, at the Future Investment Initiative Conference - where business leaders from around the world gathered despite the conflict in Israel -Kushner caused a stir by equating Hamas with “evil.”
When the forces of good are winning, the forces of evil will try to stop them and that’s really what I believe the terrorist attack was meant to do.
Until that moment, I’m told, given local sensitivities, conference participants had shied away from discussing publicly what was going on in Israel, although privately participants could talk about little else.
But sources say that Kushner’s messaging is deliberate and not off-the-cuff. It was clear at the conference that Kushner’s friend and investor, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), is trying to reform the economy of his country and is keen to get past the war and resume talks with Israel and the U.S. In other words, to get back to business as usual.
And Kushner proved himself to be an astonishingly effective global messenger for MBS, when he said on Fox News this Sunday that it’s an irony that he believed Jewish Americans are safer right now in Saudi Arabia than on American college campuses. He singled out Columbia University, whose community in particular, appears to be in turmoil, caught on all sides by allegations of hate-speech, anti-semitism, doxxing and censorship.
He said that at last week’s FII conference in Riyadh, he was allowed to “speak freely,” the implication being that in the US these days, you can’t.
I’m not sure American women who’ve been to Saudi Arabia recently would agree they can move “freely” - I’m thinking of one friend who had to sit fully clothed by a swimming pool watching men in bathing trunks leap in and out of the water - but it’s a pretty startling thought.
Unsurprisingly, it garnered Kushner headlines the next day, reminding me of how, back in 2016 Trump’s great friend Tom Barrack, who was close to the leadership of several Middle Eastern states used to go on TV and give talking points about the region that were “helpful’ in thawing old perceptions. This was ahead of Trump’s election and a u-turn in US foreign policy towards the Middle East. (Barrack would later be acquitted of charges that he acted as an unregistered foreign lobbyist for the United Arab Emirates.)
No question, I’m told, that it was also clear at the FII conference that the Saudis et al can’t wait for the Biden administration, which eased sanctions on Iran until recently, to leave office. They’d love nothing more than to see the return of Trump to the Presidency.
Here’s Kushner on Fox News when asked about Trump’s 2024 prospects.
I think that people who were against Trump are beginning to see that we need a strong leader….and that his policies made the world a safer and more prosperous place.
Of course one might argue that one of the chief beneficiaries of Trump’s policies and prosperity was Kushner himself. Let’s not forget that Kushner’s new fund has a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
And, nowhere do we see Kushner’s wealth more brazenly demonstrated than in his wife’s Instagram posts.
Down the line, depending on how the couple’s renaissance as a global power couple goes, one wonders if that particular messaging may need a little massaging.
They may have to face up to a fundamental question: Do they want to be Influencers? or People With Real Influence?