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The Consistent Inconsistency of Ivanka
Newly released documentary footage shows that Ivanka’s belief that “perception is more important than reality” may have finally caught up with her...again.
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A portion of Ivanka Trump’s taped testimony was broadcast during the third hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
In her taped interview with the House select committee, Ivanka Trump was asked about her reaction to Bill Barr's comments on December 1, 2020 about there being no widespread election fraud.
"It affected my perspective,” Ivanka testified. “I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he said.”
However, what has since surfaced is a video shot nine days after Bill Barr’s statement in which Ivanka tells a very different story.
On December 10, 2020, filmmaker Alex Holder was in the White House filming for a docu-series (which will be released by discovery+, the company which also puts out my docu-series “Chasing Ghislaine”).
In the clip, Ms. Trump said, “I think that, as the president has said, every single vote needs to be counted and needs to be heard, and he campaigned for the voiceless.”
She said that “a lot of Americans feel very, very disenfranchised right now, and really, question the sanctity of our elections, and that’s not right, it’s not acceptable.”
“He has to take on this fight,” she said. “Look, you fight for what you love the most and he loves this country and he loves this country’s people, and he wants to make sure that their voice is, is heard and not muted.” Mr. Trump “will continue to fight until every legal remedy is exhausted, and that’s what he should do,” Ms. Trump said.
Obviously that’s a far cry from what she told the House committee about having accepted Barr’s statement about there being no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Holder himself clocked the inconsistency. Per the New York Times again:
“I certainly noted the sort of differences of position,” Mr. Holder said of the video footage of Ms. Trump that the committee played. He said he was “unsure” of whether Ms. Trump believed her father had lost or won.
Should anyone be surprised by Ivanka’s “flexibility” on such a major issue?
Er, No. It’s hardly the first time Ivanka has made this kind of rapid about-face, especially when her finely-tuned PR instincts kick in and she insinuates to the public that she is what it wants from her, namely a moderating influence on her father. But in private, she has a completely different narrative.
Remember Charlottesville? The parallels are striking. In Kushner, Inc., I tell the story of the difference between Ivanka’s public and private reactions to her father’s comment about there being “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville. Publicly, she tweeted, “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”
But what I revealed she told NEC advisor Gary Cohn privately a few days later was very different. Shockingly so.
Take your mind back to the summer of 2017. Here’s the excerpt:
The Senate race in Alabama would become corrosive and diverting, but it was not the top item on the minds of most White House staff on August 12, when a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent, resulting in the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer. Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” a statement that caused widespread outrage. Kushner, typically, said nothing. Ivanka tweeted: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”
Kushner and Ivanka then went on vacation in Vermont so Rob Porter, Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders worked with Trump on a new statement, which he put out on Monday, in which he specifically condemned the racist far-right groups involved. But a day later, when taking questions following a press briefing in the lobby of Trump Tower, Trump reverted to drawing moral equivalency between racist far-right groups and the counter-protesters they clashed with at the rally. He said there were “very fine people on both sides.”
That Friday, Cohn went to Bedminster to resign, on principle. Before seeing Trump, he stopped at Kushner and Ivanka’s house there. According to colleagues he later confided in, the couple told him they could not understand why he was resigning. “My dad’s not a racist,” Ivanka said. “He didn’t mean any of it; he’s not anti-Semitic.”
Cohn would tell colleagues he was flabbergasted by this. His subsequent conversation with Javanka was so surprising it became legend among a small group of senior staff. Cohn had told the couple: “There were not good people on the other side carrying tiki torches, saying ‘Jews will not replace us.’ I don’t know about you, but most of my family got killed in the Holocaust; my grandfather got over on a boat at thirteen, thank goodness, but all his relatives are gone. I’m first-generation college-educated in this country. We haven’t been here that long. My grandma is still alive and tells me lots of stories. This is too close to home for me.”
He had been totally frustrated when Ivanka answered him with two Trumpian responses. Instead of understanding what he was saying, Ivanka said:
First: “My dad didn’t mean any of that.”
Second: “That’s not what he said.”
Cohn then walked the couple through what had happened while they’d been away. It had not been easy for the crisis team to persuade the president to walk back his first remarks. But once he’d done it, they’d come up with a plan for the press conference following Tuesday’s infrastructure briefing. Trump was supposed to say: “I stand by my statement of yesterday,” and then get into the elevator. Cohn, Mnuchin, and Elaine Chao, the secretary of transportation, would handle questions from the press, Cohn told the couple. Instead, Trump whipped out a piece of paper with quotes from the statements he had made on Saturday and Monday. In other words, Trump had planned to say what he said about there being very fine people on both sides.
Ultimately, Cohn did not resign, but no thanks to Javanka. Rob Porter persuaded him that they could get past this and that he was essential to the administration in so many ways, not least because he was needed to get tax reform through Congress. But Cohn’s view of Kushner and Ivanka was deeply affected by that exchange on Charlottesville. He mentioned this to Porter, among others. Porter’s view was that the couple was conditioned to understandably defend Trump. But for Cohn, that was not good enough. He was upset that they were not sufficiently upset. And he was upset that they seemed to think, as they always did, that this was one more public relations problem that needed to be massaged. In his mind, Kushner and Ivanka were not the Trump whisperers they claimed to be. They really were complicit. They only pretended to be the good guys.
Holder, the documentary filmmaker, testified behind closed doors yesterday, and his footage—including raw footage from Jan. 6 and raw footage of interviews from September 2020 to the present with Trump, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Jared Kushner—has been subpoenaed.
I reported in Kushner, Inc. that Ivanka’s self-professed motto is “perception is reality.” But Holder’s reported confusion about what and who Ivanka believed about the 2020 election result shows that, as with Charlottesville, it appears that, for Ivanka, “reality” can bend according to her audience. A better Ivanka PR maxim might be: “Above all else, be flexible.”