Kushner is modeling Trump’s defense after Netanyahu, according to Michael Wolff

New Release

“Whatever charges were leveled against him, Bibi, ever attentive to his base, was able to fend them off”

Haim Zach (GPO)

In a new book set to be released on Tuesday June 4, an advance copy of which was obtained by Jewish Insider, author Michael Wolff details Jared Kushner’s efforts to put together an effective re-election campaign that would help his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, overcome any legal issues that might arise following the publication of the Mueller report.

The key passages below that we’ve selected are Wolff’s; as they’re read, it’s worth noting that his reporting and sourcing has been called into question, often convincingly. Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, is prominently featured In the book’s acknowledgements. This is a sign that book has some reliance on his testimony, which could be used, especially in the case of the Kushners, to settle scores.

White House aide Avi Berkowitz, a key Kushner ally, already responded to Wolff’s new book via Twitter: “Michael Wolff never reached out to me (or the White House) for comment. The passages from the book I’ve seen in the media are completely false.”

The following are selected previews from Wolff’s book, Siege: Trump Under Fire:

* * *

“Kushner’s model, he told friends, was Israeli prime minister and family friend ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu,” Wolff writes. “Whatever charges were leveled against him, Bibi, ever attentive to his base, was able to fend them off because he could always be counted on to win his next election.”

At the same time, Wolff writes, Kushner saw himself as a Rabin of sorts — “Rather than seeing himself as compromised by his family’s search for funds in the Middle East and the deal negotiated by various friends and allies, Kushner viewed himself as uniquely positioned to arbitrate the conflicts. He had taken to referring to Oslo, a play about the efforts of Norweigian diplomats in 1993 to being Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat together. He saw himself as the one person with the sagacity and temperament to effect a resolution among all the players in the region.”

“During the summer of 2018, Kushner prepared what he thought might be the ultimate initiative, his personal Oslo move. His idea was to build a platform for pan-Middle East economic development; through joint venture lending programs, the platform would lead to political discussion and conceptual; framework for lasting peace… In pursuing this notion, Kushner was operating outside of diplomatic channels.”

Inside Henry Kissinger and Jared Kushner’s relationship — “Kushner saw Kissinger as a key to his great leap forward. The older man — he was then ninety-four — was flattered by the younger man’s attentions. Kushner was not just deferential and solicitous, he enthusiastically embraced the Kissinger doctrine — the belief that mutual interest ought to form the basis for sagacious moves on the international chess board in the quest for ultimate advantage. Kushner, without illusions about his father-in-law’s lack of interest in foreign policy matters, saw himself, just as Kissinger had once seen himself, as the wiser and more focused adviser to a less sophisticated president.”

“And while others might think Kissinger had become an elderly gas bag — and that he was, as ever, a shameless social climber — Kushner believed that Kissinger could provide him with special advantage in his new Washington world. Kushner dropped his new friend’s name shamelessly: ‘Henry says…’ ‘I was just talking to Henry…’ ‘I’d like to get Henry’s take on that…’  ‘Let’s loop Henry in…’”

“‘Jared’s Uncle Henry’ was Ivanka’s perhaps not entirely approving designation. For Kissinger — still globe-trotting, still at work at Kissinger Associates most days, still social climbing — the startling opportunity at his advanced age was to become the key adviser to one of the most significant foreign policy players, perhaps the most significant foreign policy player, in the U.S. government. And the essential point, as Kissinger explained to friends, was that Kushner, with zero experience in international relations, was a blank slate. In the weeks after the [2016] election, Kissinger went out of his way to widely praise Jared’s willingness to listen and the quickness with which he learned. Kushner, for his part, praised Kissinger’s unfaltering acuity and renewed relevance in a complicated world.”

“Kushner even floated the suggestion of Kissinger as secretary of state, relaying this idea back to Kissinger. Trump told people that Kissinger was in full support of his hope for a new friendship with Russia, saying that Kissinger regarded Vladimir Putin with ‘fantastic respect — loves him.’ Through much of the first year of the new administration, Jared continued to call on Kissinger. Even as Trump’s foreign policy began to careen in uncharted directions — casual saber rattling, daily tariff threats, slavish embrace of despotic figures — Kissinger, enjoying his heightened prestige, remained tempered and supportive, reassuring his wide circle of concerned foreign policy experts and international businessmen that the drama and the tweets were irrelevant, that an impulsive Trump was contained by a thoughtful Kushner. But in early 2017, Kissinger, lobbied by Kushner to write an encomium about the young man for Time’s annual list of the hundred most influential people, seemed forced to balance his own status-seeking inclinations against Kushner’s lack of foreign policy bona fides.”

Kissinger later turned on Kushner, criticizing Trump’s foreign policy — “A few months before the [Jamal] Khashoggi murder… [Henry] Kissinger had attended a luncheon hosted by a small group of influential New York lawyers. Kissinger brought Rupert Murdoch along. Both men had aided the rise of Jared Kushner and, quite despite their better instincts, both had urged an open mind regarding the Trump administration… But now, at the lunch… a disgusted Kissinger ripped Trump and Kushner in the most fundamental and visceral way. ‘The entire foreign policy is based on a single unstable individual’s reaction to perceptions of slights or flattery. If someone says something nice about him, they are our friend; if they say something unkind, if they don’t kiss the ring, they are our enemy.’”

How Kushner and MBS forged a relationship that would benefit the U.S. and Saudi Arabia — “First the plan would have to surmount a not inconsiderable obstacle: JASTA, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which was expressly written to make it possible for 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. If Aramco were listed on a foreign exchange, it would be particularly vulnerable to anyone taking advantage of the opening provided by JASTA; in fact, Aramco’s liability would be virtually unlimited. Hence, who would invest? Not to worry: Kushner was on the case. If MBS would help Jared with a menu of items, including pressuring the Palestinians, Jared would help MBS. Indeed, MBS, to the consternation of the State Department — who backed his cousin the Crown Prince Muhammed bin Nayef (MBN) would be one of the first state visitors to the White House. Three months later, without any White House objections, MBS ousted his cousin and became Crown Prince, the presumptive heir to the throne and the effective day-to-day Saudi leader. It was the Trump administration’s first coup. To win favor with Kushner, the rich Gulf states — Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia — competed with each other or partnered with each other. In this, Kushner found himself, or had positioned himself, as one of the essential players in one of the world’s largest pools of unregulated free cash flow.”

Wolff also reports about private conversations President Trump had with aides when three members of his inner circle — Michael Cohen, Allen Weisselberg and David Pecker —  decided to cooperate with the Mueller probe.

“The Jews always flip,” Trump is quoted as saying by Wolff.

“In the days after Cohen’s guilty plea, [Trump] took to referring to ‘the law firm of Pecker, Cohen and Weisselberg.’ He developed a riff on the horrors that an Orthodox Jew would probably encounter in jail, one that sketched a vivid picture of a tattooed Nazi cell mate.”

“Trump might have called them ‘my people’ or ‘my guys,’ but Cohen was ‘the only stupid Jew,’ and Weisselberg was the financial advisor whose name, after more than forty years, Trump took delight in mangeling (‘Weisselman,’ ‘Weisselstein,’ Weisselwitz’). Pecker was often mocked by Trump as ‘Little Pecker,’ and his mustache was the target of derisive and obscene remarks.”  

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered daily in a must-read newsletter.