Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was confronted by two of the most senior US government officials for mixing his personal interests with US foreign policy, according to a new book.
Kushner, an envoy to the Middle East for his father-in-law, is said to have been robustly challenged by both Rex Tillerson, then secretary of state, and Gary Cohn, formerly Trump’s top economic adviser.
The confrontations are detailed in Kushner Inc by the journalist Vicky Ward, who also describes interference in foreign relations by Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump. The book is scheduled to be released on 19 March. A copy was obtained by the Guardian.
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Ward reports that Tillerson blamed Kushner for Trump’s abrupt endorsement of a provocative blockade and diplomatic campaign against Qatar by Saudi Arabia and several allies in June 2017. The US has thousands of troops stationed in Qatar.
Tillerson “told Kushner that his interference had endangered the US”, an unidentified Tillerson aide tells Ward. Tillerson is also said to have read negative “chatter” about himself in intelligence reports after Kushner belittled him to Kushner’s friend Mohammed bin Salman, the controversial Saudi crown prince.
Meanwhile, Cohn is said to have rebuked Kushner in January 2017 after it was revealed Kushner had dined with executives from the Chinese financial corporation Anbang, which was considering investing in the Kushner family’s troubled tower at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
“You’ve got to be crazy,” Cohn is said to have told Kushner in front of others. Kushner met the executives around the time he hosted Chinese government officials at the Fifth Avenue tower. The building was eventually refinanced by a Qatari-backed investment fund.
Ivanka Trump is reported to have interfered in telephone calls between her father and foreign dignitaries despite having overseas business interests. “Thanks so much for the CD you sent me,” she is quoted as having told an Indian leader by someone who heard the call. The Trump Organization owns several residential towers in India.
Ward’s book portrays Kushner and Ivanka Trump as relentlessly ambitious operators who are loathed by many forced to work with them. She reports that White House staffers mocked Kushner as the “secretary of everything” for his wide-ranging meddling and derided Ivanka Trump’s team as Habi – “home of all bad ideas”.
John Kelly, formerly Trump’s chief of staff and homeland security secretary, is quoted as dismissing the couple as “just playing government”.
The book also details disagreements between them and Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chief and top White House strategist. Bannon clashed with the couple, who are former Democrats, while pushing to convert Trump’s aggressively nationalist campaign rhetoric into government policy.
Bannon recalls Kushner furiously shouting at him at the White House in 2017 after he confronted Kushner about holding secret talks with senators on immigration reform. “He goes from a little boy to, like, this fucking devil,” Bannon is quoted as saying.
Bannon also claims to have told Ivanka Trump: “Go fuck yourself … you are nothing” in front of her father, during an argument over who was the bigger leaker to the media. Ivanka Trump is said to have called Bannon a “fucking liar”.
For her part, Ivanka Trump is focused on cementing a Trump dynasty to rival the Kennedys and Bushes by becoming commander-in-chief herself one day, according to Ward. “She thinks she’s going to be president of the United States,” Cohn is quoted as saying.