Still Standing, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Step Back in the Spotlight

  • They disappointed climate change activists who thought they would keep President Trump from leaving the landmark Paris accord.
  • They enraged Democrats and even some Republicans by not pushing back against his immigration policies, and
  • alienated business allies by their silence over threats to Nafta. They regularly faced news stories about their unpopularity.

Even their relationship with the president seemed to suffer.

Several times Mr. Trump joked that he “could have had Tom Brady” as a son-in-law. “Instead,” the president said, according to five people who heard him, “I got Jared Kushner.”

.. It did not help that the president had gone from telling aides to “talk to Jared,” as he did during the campaign, to telling them that “Jared hasn’t been so good for me.”

.. At various points, Mr. Trump told friends and his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, that he wished both Jared and Ivanka would return to New York.

.. It was only in May that Mr. Kushner had his security clearance restored

.. “I think they felt in some ways when things escalated that they thought it was best to keep a lower profile and hone in on their specific policy areas,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders

.. once said that she did not intend to stay in the capital long enough to become one of its “political creatures” — people she feels are “so principled that they get nothing done,”

.. home is now in Washington, where their children attend Jewish schools and their house is routinely watched by papraazzi as they depart for work or go for a run. 

.. As for separating immigrant families, she added, “How do they sleep at night?”

.. In response to critics like Ms. Rosen, the couple have argued that they can temper Mr. Trump only if he is willing to listen.

.. Mr. Kushner has convinced the president that criminal justice reform is worthwhile, even as his attorney general remains a vocal opponent.

.. Mr. Kushner has shown an adeptness at using the president’s impulses to steer him toward his own priorities. When Mr. Kushner ushered Kim Kardashian West into the Oval Office to speak about commuting the life sentence of an African-American woman named Alice Marie Johnson, Mr. Trump ignored the concerns of his advisers and freed Ms. Johnson, dazzled by his power to grant clemency and Ms. Kardashian’s celebrity.

.. Her supporters argue that she is in an untenable situation if she speaks out in public. Her father said she had addressed the issue with him privately, further inflaming her critics.

.. Mr. Kushner appears to see himself as the custodian of Mr. Trump’s political brand, offering his father-in-law “options,” and has spoken about clearing out the Republican Party of lingering resistance. He has privately said that he has been taking action against “incompetence” and that any tensions are a result of fighting for his father-in-law’s best interests.

.. His detractors say the friction stems from Mr. Kushner’s meddling in things for which he is out of his depth, like when the president, following his own preference, huddled with Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump instead of his top policy advisers before his meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

.. Ms. Richards wrote in a memoir that they had offered her a deal that felt like a “bribe” — continued federal funding for the group in return for a halt to providing abortions.

.. Inside the White House, the couple’s influence is most felt in internal battles, particularly with aides they do not regard as loyal to their mission — or Mr. Trump’s.

.. That is particularly true of Mr. Kushner, who, critics say, shares his father-in-law’s desire for control. Over the course of Mr. Trump’s campaign and presidency, Mr. Kushner has been seen as trying to undercut or as being at odds with a long list of aides — some who remain, many who have left.

The list includes:

  • Mr. Trump’s first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski;
  • his first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and his associates;
  • his former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon;
  • Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel;
  • the White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway;
  • the first head of the presidential transition, Chris Christie;
  • the former secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson;
  • Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, and
  • his longtime lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz.

Their privileged permanence as family members has allowed them to outlast other aides in an environment where expectations have been shifted and, at times, lowered on their behalf.

.. Both husband and wife, like Mr. Trump, are said to hang on to grudges, but Mr. Kushner is far more transactional than his wife. Like his father-in-law, he appears to convince himself that fights did not happen if someone has become useful to him.

.. A persistent obstacle to both Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump is Mr. Kelly, whose approach to security clearances they feel unfairly targeted them, and who, they have confided to associates, they believe has spread negative information about them.

.. Though they have insisted that they are not trying to play a role in a succession plan for Mr. Kelly, few West Wing staff members believe that.

.. Both Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner are widely believed to support Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, as Mr. Kelly’s successor.

..

Whoever the replacement is would join a new set of aides who — many with the couple’s support — have replaced the familiar faces from the 2016 campaign.

When

  • Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive, was preparing to join the White House, Mr. Kushner, with Ms. Trump’s support, gave him their stamp of approval. It was Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump who wanted
  • Mercedes Schlapp, a well-connected Republican consultant, brought into the administration. Mr. Kushner’s ally
  • Brad Parscale became the 2020 campaign manager, a move Mr. Kushner told the West Wing staff about on the morning it was publicly announced.

And they regard Stephen Miller, a supporter of some of Mr. Trump’s harshest stands on immigration, as a walking policy encyclopedia.

.. In June, when the United States won its joint bid with Canada and Mexico to host the World Cup in 2026, Mr. Kushner’s team made sure to tell reporters that it happened in part because of the efforts of the president’s son-in-law, who reportedly used some of his international contacts to win enough votes to seal the bid.

.. Ms. Collins found in Ms. Trump what many Republicans most desire: a direct line to a president sometimes at odds with his own party.

.. Ms. Trump has delivered one of the few things she can uniquely accomplish in Washington: Riding in a car together one day, she handed Ms. Collins a phone. The president was on the line.

Mysterious Strangers Dog Controversial Insurer’s Critics

Chris Irons, an analyst at research firm GeoInvesting LLC, which has published several reports critical of AmTrust’s accounting practices, said he was contacted in July by a woman who identified herself as a London-based consultant to a European software multimillionaire seeking contributors to a new investment website. He agreed to meet at a Philadelphia-area restaurant.

Chris Irons, an analyst at research firm GeoInvesting LLC, which has published several reports critical of AmTrust’s accounting practices, said he was contacted in July by a woman who identified herself as a London-based consultant to a European software multimillionaire seeking contributors to a new investment website. He agreed to meet at a Philadelphia-area restaurant.

.. AmTrust, a fast-growing, New York-based insurance company with $5.5 billion in 2016 revenue, in recent years has attracted skepticism about its results from investors betting against its stock

.. Other AmTrust critics described similar odd approaches to The Journal, including an investor who is betting against AmTrust’s stock; a journalist who has published articles critical of AmTrust’s founders; and Mr. Irons’s boss, who said he had met two months earlier with a different “consultant” dangling a lucrative offer, who then brought up AmTrust.

.. Battles between companies and short sellers sometimes turn nasty and both sides in such disputes occasionally have used private investigators to dig up information, usually in a legitimate fashion. The investigators often are hired through law firms and the information sometimes is used in litigation.

.. An AmTrust spokeswoman said the company didn’t employ investigators to probe its critics. It declined to say whether its lawyers or others in its service had done so.

.. Investigators using fake identities and misrepresentations could run afoul of several state and federal laws, said Gavin P. Lentz, a Philadelphia attorney and former prosecutor, who isn’t involved in the matter. A company that hires such investigators potentially could be held civilly liable, Mr. Lentz said, because these are agents acting on their behalf

Generally speaking, as a private investigator you can’t misrepresent yourself” in the U.S., said James Cesarano, vice president of ethics and compliance at Kroll Associates Inc., a corporate investigations firm.

.. AmTrust has been in a long-running battle with short sellers—investors who bet against its stock—and other critics, who have claimed the insurer burnishes its financials partly by underestimating future claims and through reinsurance transactions with overseas affiliates that had the effect of hiding losses.

 

Breaking from tech giants, Democrats consider becoming an antimonopoly party

Barry Lynn, a monopoly critic and longtime scholar at the Google-funded New America Foundation, was leaving and taking his 10-person initiative with him.

.. Lynn, who has been critical of Google, had praised European regulators for hitting the company with a $2.7 billion antitrust fine. The foundation, which has received more than $21 million from Google, removed Lynn’s comments from its website.

.. Soon after, Lynn’s new project, Citizens Against Monopoly, launched with a website that asked people to protest “Google’s unethical behavior” and pledged that “Google’s attempt to shut us down will fail.” New America’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, pushed back, warning that Lynn was starting a family feud at a moment when Democrats could not afford it.

.. “Barry’s new organization and campaign against Google is the opening salvo of one group of Democrats versus another group of Democrats in the run-up to the 2020 election,” Slaughter wrote on Medium. “I personally think the country faces far greater challenges of racism, violence, a broken political system, and geographic and partisan divisions so great that we are losing any common sense of what we stand and strive for as a country.”

.. as Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, strongly supported the president, and the FTC abandoned an antitrust case against the company. Over the years, Schmidt gave $842,900 to Democrats

.. as Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, strongly supported the president, and the FTC abandoned an antitrust case against the company. Over the years, Schmidt gave $842,900 to Democrats

.. In April, Hart Associates conducted polling, circulated among Democrats and think tanks, that found an enormous opening for antimonopoly politics.

The polling, which surveyed 1,120 voters overall and 341 from the decisive Rust Belt states, found just a slim majority saying Democrats favored “average Americans” over “large corporations and banks.”

.. “There was a growing awareness that corporate monopolies were a big problem,” explained Zephyr Teachout

.. The Democrats’ long detente with monopolies was good for fundraising, especially as more money from energy and banking companies slid toward Republicans

.. “If you take a thoughtful position and are able to justify it intellectually you won’t lose support from tech leaders,” Khanna said. “My experience has been that the community is pretty open to robust debate.”

POLLAK: Donald Trump, Twitter, and the ‘Presidential’ Standard

President Donald Trump addressed criticisms Saturday that his use of Twitter to attack his critics is not presidential. “My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” he tweeted, and added: “Make America Great Again!”

In another tweet, he pointed out that his use of social media had been crucial to his success in the 2016 presidential election — despite urging by the media, and even by his fellow Republicans, that he stop it.

One thing is clear: Trump has always used this method of fighting his critics. In 2012, he tweeted: “Everybody tells me not to hit back at the lowlifes that go after me for PR–sorry, but I must. It’s my nature.”

And long before Twitter existed, he was doing the same thing through more conventional methods. In one of the most memorable passages of his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal, Trump describes writing a nasty letter to Paul Goldberger, who was then an architecture critic for the New York Times. Goldberger had written a positive review of one of Trump’s projects — a “setup,” Trump says, for a negative review of another. He concludes by observing: “My people keep telling me I shouldn’t write letters like this to critics. The way I see it, critics get to say what they want about my work, so why shouldn’t I be able to say what I want to about theirs?”
Nothing has changed in thirty years, except for the medium.

.. One difference is immediately apparent: Trump generally confines his attacks to members of the media and political elite, while Obama attacked ordinary people, or Americans as a whole.

.. Moreover, he is usually punching back: his targets almost always start the fight.

.. One would like a president to do so at all times. Yet recent history is littered with Republicans who played nice and lost elections, or backed down from a fight once in office. Controversial tweets may be a political hazard of a winning mentality.

Regardless, many Americans prefer a president who breaks the social norms of politics to one who breaks the rules of the Constitution, however politely.