How Jared Kushner Washed His Hands of Donald Trump Before Jan. 6


HR King
May 29, 2001
WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, barely 24 hours after President Donald J. Trump claimed in the middle of the night that “frankly, we did win this election,” Jared Kushner woke up in his Kalorama mansion and announced to his wife that it was time to leave Washington. “We’re moving to Miami,” he said.
The election had not even been called for Joseph R. Biden Jr., but as Mr. Kushner later told the story to aides and associates, the White House’s young power couple felt no need to wait for the official results. They saw which way the votes were going and understood that, barring some unforeseen surprise, the president had lost his bid for a second term. Even if he refused to accept it himself.
No matter how vociferously Mr. Trump claimed otherwise, neither Mr. Kushner nor Ivanka Trump believed then or later that the election had been stolen, according to people close to them. While the president spent the hours and days after the polls closed complaining about imagined fraud in battleground states and plotting a strategy to hold on to power, his daughter and son-in-law were already washing their hands of the Trump presidency.
Their decision to move on opened a vacuum around the president that was filled by conspiracy theorists like Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who relayed to Mr. Trump farcically false stories of dead voters, stuffed ballot boxes, corrupted voting machines and foreign plots. Concluding that the president would not listen even to family members urging him to accept the results, Mr. Kushner told Mr. Trump that he would not be involved if Mr. Giuliani were in charge, according to people he confided in, effectively ceding the field to those who would try to overturn the election.
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Mr. Kushner’s decision to withdraw from the most consequential moment of the Trump presidency left few effective counterweights to the plotters seeking to subvert the will of the voters to hang on to power. While the president’s son-in-law had arguably been the most influential adviser to the president through four years, weighing in at times and carefully cultivating his reputation, he chose at that pivotal moment to focus instead on his personal project of Middle East diplomacy. He returned to the region to meet with figures who would also be helpful to him later in making money after leaving the White House. It was the final act in the myth that Mr. Kushner would be the moderating force on a president who resisted moderation.
The role Mr. Kushner played could come into sharp relief once the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol opens public hearings this week. The committee interviewed Mr. Kushner, who otherwise has not spoken at length publicly about the events after the 2020 election, and plans to show video excerpts from his testimony along with Ivanka Trump’s.
Mr. Kushner’s activities in his final months in the White House are now also coming under the scrutiny of another Democratic-run House committee investigating whether he used his position to secure a $2 billion investment in his new private equity firm from a prominent Saudi Arabian wealth fund. Mr. Kushner has said he abided by all legal and ethical guidelines while in public service.
This account of Mr. Kushner’s postelection activities is based on interviews with a wide array of figures close to him and the former president for a forthcoming book by this reporter and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker magazine called “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021,” to be published by Doubleday on Sept. 20. Nearly all of those who spoke requested anonymity to discuss private conversations and meetings.
One of the most striking realizations that emerged from the book research was how many people around Mr. Trump did not believe the election had been stolen but kept quiet or checked out, including White House officials and campaign aides. Hope Hicks, long one of his closest advisers, told him it was time to move on. “Well, Hope doesn’t believe in me,” Mr. Trump responded bitterly. “No, I don’t,” she replied. “Nobody’s convinced me otherwise.” She disappeared in the final weeks of the administration.

Kellyanne Conway, the former White House counselor and fierce Trump loyalist, reported in her new book that she told Mr. Trump to accept his loss, something she did not say publicly at the time; even this much-delayed acknowledgment of reality drew a rebuke from Mr. Trump, who said she should “go back to her crazy husband.”

The Two-to-One Formula​



HR King
May 29, 2001
During his four years in the White House, Mr. Kushner positioned himself as the measured alter ego to a volatile president, the one who others turned to for help in calming down or reasoning with Mr. Trump when he headed down one erratic path or another. But in fact, Mr. Kushner became strategic in his interventions, having been burned by early efforts that blew up in his face. He focused on personal priorities like criminal justice reform, and he jousted with rivals in a factionalized West Wing while absenting himself at key moments, to the frustration of colleagues.
Mr. Kushner developed his own techniques for handling Mr. Trump. One key, he told others, was feeding the president good news, even if it was in short supply. In fact, Mr. Kushner came up with a specific mathematical formula for his peculiar brand of Trump management: two to one. Any phone call, any meeting should include this good-news-to-bad-news ratio. He would give twice as much upbeat information as grim updates. He similarly made a habit of telling Mr. Trump to add five points to any bad poll, rationalizing that traditional surveys missed many Trump voters anyway, part of a common White House practice of telling the president what he wanted to hear regardless of the facts.

Even for his son-in-law, though, the president was a demanding boss, not given to showing appreciation. Mr. Kushner understood that Mr. Trump was never going to call him and say, “You’re doing a great job. I just want to thank you for this.” Instead, Mr. Kushner once explained to an associate, his dealings with Trump invariably began with the president saying, “What the hell is going on with this?” albeit with an earthier expletive, often in a phone call at 1 or 2 in the morning.
Having watched dozens of senior officials come and go, Mr. Kushner realized the essential element of survival: never forgetting it was Mr. Trump’s show, Mr. Trump’s party, Mr. Trump’s way. “You have to realize you don’t make the waves,” Mr. Kushner regularly advised other officials. “He makes the waves. And then you have to do your best to kind of stay on the surfboard.”
Mr. Kushner the surfer had come to recognize when the waves were too rough — as they were after Election Day 2020. He understood that his father-in-law would not concede right away and would ask for recounts and file lawsuits, but he believed that even if there were some irregularities, it was mainly a way of soothing a wounded ego and explaining defeat. Mr. Trump would lash out and make outlandish claims but eventually accept reality and move out of the White House — an assumption many Republicans in Washington made, only to discover how far the president was really willing to go.
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To Mr. Kushner, his father-in-law’s decision to turn once again to Mr. Giuliani was a red flag. As far as Mr. Kushner was concerned, Mr. Giuliani was an erratic schemer who had already gotten Mr. Trump impeached once because of his political intriguing in Ukraine, and nothing good would come of the former mayor’s involvement in fighting the election results. But instead of fighting Mr. Giuliani for Mr. Trump’s attention, Mr. Kushner opted out entirely, deciding it was time to focus on his own future, one that would no longer involve the White House.
He and Ms. Trump began making plans. They quickly ruled out returning to New York. Like Mr. Trump, who had officially become a Florida resident in 2019, they had soured on their former home just as it had soured on them. Miami, on the other hand, seemed exciting and new.
While Mr. Trump huddled with Mr. Giuliani and others telling him that he could still win, Mr. Kushner and his wife began thinking about where they would live, what schools they could send their three children to and what business ventures they would pursue. They had to be discreet about it. The last thing they wanted to do was make it look as if they were moving on because that would produce headlines embarrassing to Mr. Trump. Indeed, Ivanka Trump would text her father’s top advisers that same day just after the election and prod them to “Keep the faith and the fight!”
But she and Mr. Kushner were soon scouting properties in Florida, and within weeks they were buying a $32 million lot formerly owned by the Spanish singer Julio Iglesias on the private island of Indian Creek near Miami, an exclusive haven for a couple dozen wealthy families that tabloids called the “Billionaire’s Bunker.”
In what remaining time he had in the White House, Mr. Kushner wanted to focus on expanding the Abraham Accords, the agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab states, an achievement that he felt validated his whole time in Washington. Two other countries, Morocco and Sudan, signed on to the accords during the period between the election and Mr. Biden’s inauguration.
As his father-in-law refused to authorize transition cooperation with Mr. Biden’s incoming team, Mr. Kushner quietly began working with aides to the president-elect like Jake Sullivan and Jeffrey Zients to prepare for their takeover. And although Mr. Trump might not have been thinking about his legacy yet, Mr. Kushner was.

Titus Andronicus

HR Legend
Gold Member
Sep 26, 2002
Las Vegas, NV
I thought it was fairly clear from the beginning that the successful staff members, including Jared and Ivanka, understood that all credit was to go to the boss. Hope did not like being on TV, but still had a run-in or two and almost did not cut it, but Kellyanne, Pompeo, and a few others had no trouble walking things back when overruled by the boss in public. Bannon seemed to find workable middle ground by going back to Breitbart, while maintaining White House contact, but Niki Hailey, and others were more worried about their own images than guiding policy from behind the scenes. The "Mooch" was a caricature and lasted about two days ... defeated by his own Goldman Sachs swagger and an uncooperative wife, amazingly on the same day.

I admit that Jared seemed to benefit from a deeper understanding of "Trump the man" right from the start. He seemed to work on whatever he wanted to in a low-key manner, while benefiting from his family status. He seemed to maintain his self-confidence through it all, just as long as he was quietly influencing the trajectory of whatever he was interested in. His was a steely resolve and he never wavered. He knew when to dig in and when to move along. Chris Christie never stood a chance when Jared overruled his lobbying to be the new Attorney Journal.

I remember seeing an article that said that Trump had never really appointed him to anything. He just kind of assumed a role based on conversations during the leadup to, and during the campaign. After the election, he assigned himself an office near the Oval Office and moved in.

That was an insightful article and does dovetail with the reported White House drama of the Trump years.

I would have preferred a less provocative headline, however.
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HR Legend
Nov 30, 2011
There have also been reports that Ivanka tried to get
her dad to stop the January 6 riots. She was ashamed
of his behavior. I believe that Jared and Ivanka never
really bought into the "stolen election theory" of Donald

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