According to “Kushner, Inc.,” Gary Cohn, former director of the National Economic Council, has told people that Ivanka Trump thinks she could someday be president. “Her father’s reign in Washington, D.C., is, she believes, the beginning of a great American dynasty,”
.. Kushner, whose pre-White House experience included owning a boutique newspaper and helming a catastrophically ill-timed real estate deal, has arrogated to himself substantial parts of American foreign policy. According to Ward, shortly after Rex Tillerson was confirmed as secretary of state, Kushner told him “to leave Mexico to him because he’d have Nafta wrapped up by October.”
.. As political actors, the couple are living exemplars of the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological phenomenon which leads incompetent people to overestimate their ability because they can’t grasp how much they don’t know.
Partly, the Jared and Ivanka story is about the “reality distortion field” — a term one of Ward’s sources uses about Kushner — created by great family wealth. She quotes a member of Trump’s legal team saying that the two “have no idea how normal people perceive, understand, intuit.” Privilege, in them, has been raised to the level of near sociopathy.
.. Ward, the author of two previous books about the worlds of high finance and real estate, has known Kushner slightly for a long time; she told me that when he bought The New York Observer newspaper in 2006, he tried to hire her. She knocks down the idea that either he or his wife is a stabilizing force or moral compass in the Trump administration. Multiple White House sources told her they think it was Kushner who ordered the closing of White House visitor logs in April 2017, because he “didn’t want his frenetic networking exposed.” Ward reports that Cohn was stunned by their blasé reaction to Trump’s defense of the white-nationalist marchers in Charlottesville, Va.: “He was upset that they were not sufficiently upset.”
Still, even if you assume that the couple are amoral climbers, their behavior still doesn’t quite make sense. Ward writes that Ivanka’s chief concern is her personal brand, but that brand has been trashed. The book cites an October 2017 survey measuring consumer approval of more than 1,600 brands. Ivanka’s fashion line was in the bottom 10. A leading real estate developer tells Ward that Kushner, now caught up in multiple state and federal investigations, has become radioactive: “No one will want to do business with him.” (Kushner resigned as C.E.O. of Kushner Companies in 2017, but has kept most of his stake in the business.)
To truly make sense of their motivations, Ward told me, you have to understand the gravitational pull of their fathers. Husband and wife are both “really extraordinarily orientated and identified through their respective fathers in a way that most fully formed adults are not,” she said.
“You’ll notice that the U.S. position toward Qatar changes when the Qataris bail out 666 Fifth Avenue,” said Ward, adding, “We look like a banana republic.” Maybe that’s why Jared and Ivanka appear so blithely confident. As public servants, they’re obviously way out of their depth. But as self-dealing scions of a gaudy autocracy? They’re naturals.
Dr. Lance Dodes makes the case that the president suffers from a dangerous sociopathic disorder
Lance Dodes: Mr. Trump is a sociopath, in that he meets every diagnostic criterion for the official diagnostic term “Antisocial Personality Disorder.” The fact that this is a personality disorder, rather than simply a single symptom such as anxiety or depression, means that all his actions are signs of this severe, continuous, mental disturbance.
To understand his actions, it is essential to keep in mind that sociopaths have only one goal: to enhance themselves, and that in pursuing their self-interest, they lack both normal human empathy for others and a normal human conscience. Cheating, conning, lying, stealing, threatening are all done with no remorse.
When stressed with facts that would require them to admit failure, or even that others know more or are more capable than them, sociopaths lose track of reality, becoming delusional with insistence on the truth of what they psychologically need to maintain their superior view of themselves. Indeed, nobody matters except to the degree they can serve the sociopath’s personal needs.
That’s why loyalty is demanded, but as soon as an associate disagrees, the sociopath turns on them with a fury; there was never a real relationship to begin with.
Mr. Trump’s denial of the facts about Mr. Warmbier is consistent with his sociopathy. He ignores reality, is unremorseful about lying and does not hesitate to sacrifice the feelings of others such as Mr. Warmbier’s family. We don’t know exactly why he lied in this case, but one possibility is that Mr. Trump has heavily promoted his relationship with Kim as evidence of his superior ability to manage world tensions and thinks that confronting Kim would interfere with that, hence personally diminishing Mr. Trump. In any case, Mr. Trump’s absence of feelings for Mr. Warmbier or his family is the same as his absence of feelings for the disabled reporter he mocked, for religious and racial minorities, for children separated from their parents at the border and on and on.
Lance Dodes: Mr. Trump has a long history that proves his diagnosis. If you consider the 7 traits that define Antisocial Personality Disorder in the DSM-5, he meets every one of them:
Donald Trump specializes in spectacular breakups.
First there was Ivana. Then there was Marla. Now comes trouble in paradise with Kim.
.. This time, it wasn’t just lust, betrayal and secrets splayed across Page Six. This time, it was in Congress, part of an investigation that could lead to legal jeopardy for the Trumps or impeachment for the president.
.. In his testimony, Michael Cohen called himself a “fool” when it came to Trump. “I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have,” Cohen said. A fool for love, held in thrall by Trump. How could anyone be held in thrall by such a sleazy goofball, much less offer to take a bullet for him or make 500 threats on his behalf?
.. “It seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong,” said Cohen in his “Goodfellas” accent, adding that being around the “icon” was “intoxicating.”
“Mr. Trump is an enigma,” Cohen said. “He is complicated, as am I.”
Actually, Trump is simple, grasping for money, attention and fame. The enigma about Trump is why he cut off his lap dog so brutally that Cohen fell into the embrace of Robert Mueller and New York federal prosecutors. Trump is often compared to a mob boss, but Michael Corleone would never turn on a loyal capo, only on one who had crossed him.
The portrait Cohen drew of Trump was not surprising. It has been apparent for some time that the president is a con man, racist, cheat and liar. (See: Jared Kushner security clearance.)
What was most compelling about the congressional hearing was the portrait of the sadistic relationship between the sycophant and the sociopath.
Apparently there are some people close to Donald Trump with the capacity for shame. Not decency or courage, of course, but at least furtive recognition that they’re complicit in something vile.
.. The New York Times reported on a mother deported to Guatemala without her 8-year-old son. In The Washington Post, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics described a shelter for toddlers where staffers aren’t allowed to hug or hold the bereft children.
.. ProPublica obtained a recording of small children wailing for their parentsin a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, while a Border Patrol agent joked, “We’ve got an orchestra here.”
.. several people associated with the White House stepped forward to dissemble. Kirstjen Nielsen, head of the Department of Homeland Security, sent out a series of tweets denying that the administration’s policy was in fact the administration’s policy. “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,” she lied.
.. Melania Trump’s spokeswoman put out a slippery statement distancing the first lady from the president’s actions and sowing confusion about their cause. “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” the statement said, as if her husband were not responsible for the separations.
.. Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, claimed that “nobody” in the administration likes the policy.
.. It’s hard to tell if these women are engaged in deliberate gaslighting or frantic reputation maintenance.
.. Perhaps Nielsen is worried about her post-White House prospects now that she’s best known for the systematic traumatization of children.
.. Maybe Melania Trump realizes that being the trophy wife of a child-torturer is bad for her brand. (#BeBest!)
.. no one should be able to squirm out of admitting that the evil practice of family separation is Donald Trump’s doing, abetted by everyone who abets him.
.. while some Trump apologists — as well as Trump himself — deny their role in tearing families apart, others in the administration boldly own it. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry, period,” Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller told The Times.
.. The only alternative to the current policy, they say, is what they call “catch and release,” a dehumanizing term borrowed from fishing
.. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, dispatched this argument in a Facebook post on Monday. “The administration’s decision to separate families is a new, discretionary choice. Anyone saying that their hands are tied or that the only conceivable way to fix the problem of catch-and-release is to rip families apart is flat wrong,” he wrote. Some in the administration, he added, “have decided that this cruel policy increases their legislative leverage.”
.. The administration’s justifications and denials are meant to obscure that fact. Consider Nielsen’s suggestion, during a speech on Monday, that the administration is worried about child smuggling
.. Officers separated them — according to a lawsuit, Ms. L could hear her daughter in the next room, screaming — and the girl was sent to Chicago while her mother was held in California.
.. When the A.C.L.U. sued on Ms. L’s behalf, officials claimed they’d taken the girl because Ms. L couldn’t prove she was her parent. The judge in the case ordered a DNA test
.. “The truth is they’ve been doing this all along for deterrence purposes, as sometimes they boldly said in the press,” Lee Gelernt, an A.C.L.U. lawyer who argued the case, told me. “But when confronted in a federal lawsuit, they tried to retroactively justify it by saying they couldn’t figure out whether it was the mother.” It’s hard to know who’s worse — the sociopaths like Miller who glory in the administration’s cruelty, or those who are abashed enough to lie about the filthy thing they’re part of, but not to do anything else.