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Fights with Bannon and calls with Murdoch: Five revelations from Jared Kushner’s White House memoir

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Jared Kushner is joining the long list of former Trump White House officials publishing memoirs in an attempt to capitalise from four years serving a celebrity president whose ex-employees have launched an empire of media gigs and pet projects.

The president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser is publishing a book next month titled Breaking History, which like the memoirs of his colleagues contains a number of descriptions of lurid, explosive moments that would seem deeply out of place in any administration other than Donald Trump’s. What may be unique about Mr Kushner’s, however, is the pairing of unflattering portrayals of the Trump White House with the unlikelihood that Mr Trump himself will denounce the work or its author.

That’s thanks to Mr Kushner’s marriage to Ivanka Trump, who as the president’s eldest daughter avoided criticism herself after the January 6 committee played testimony from her in which she admitted that she accepted ex-Attorney General Bill Barr’s assessment that her father’s claims of election fraud were, in his words, “bullshit”.

Let’s take a look at the most newsworthy findings from the latest offering to arise from the ignominious end of the Trump presidency:

Jared Kushner was setting up Trump’s cozy relationship with Fox News from the very beginning

The president’s son-in-law acted fast, by his own account, in 2015 to defuse a simmering feud growing between Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch, the right-wing media mogul whose unflattering remarks about Mr Trump early on in the president’s political career were hardly an outlier among conservatives who would later bend the knee.

After Mr Murdoch tweeted shortly following Mr Trump’s campaign launch that the New York businessman was “embarrassing” his friends and the country, Mr Kushner met with the Australian-born Murdoch and writes that he hashed out an optimist’s view of the Trump campaign message.

“[Donald] wants to be president,” Mr Kushner writes that he told the NewsCorp mogul, whose American businesses include Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. “Look, he doesn’t need a nicer plane. He’s got a beautiful plane. He doesn’t need a nicer house. He doesn’t need anything. He’s tired of watching politicians screw up the country, and he thinks he could do a better job.”

And to Mr Trump, he writes that he warned: “Please, you’re in a Republican primary. You don’t need to get on the wrong side of Rupert. Give me a couple of hours to fix it.”

Did John Kelly ‘shove’ Ivanka Trump?

One of the more explosive accusations to arise from Mr Kushner’s book was the claim that then-Chief of Staff John Kelly “shoved” past Ivanka Trump in a hallway after a “contentious” meeting with the president in the Oval Office.

Kushner writes: “Ivanka was walking down the main hallway in the West Wing when she passed him. Unaware of his heated state of mind, she said, ‘Hello, chief.’ Kelly shoved her out of the way and stormed by. She wasn’t hurt, and didn’t make a big deal about the altercation, but in his rage Kelly had shown his true character.”

He would go on to say that Mr Kelly, a retired general in the Marine Corps, offered a “meek” apology later in the day.

But Mr Kelly has fiercely denied that the incident in question, or his apology, ever occurred.

“It is inconceivable that I would ever shove a woman. Inconceivable. Never happen[ed],” he told The Washington Post this week. “Would never intentionally do something like that. Also, don’t remember ever apologising to her for something I didn’t do. I’d remember that.”

Kushner hid his treatment for thyroid cancer while serving in the White House

Mr Kushner was set to attend the opening of a Louis Vuitton factory with his father in 2019 when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, he writes in his memoir.

The diagnosis and treatment in are unremarkable on their own. What stands out about the episode is that Mr Kushner writes that he told almost no one of the medical issue — including the president.

“This was a personal problem and not for public consumption,” Mr Kushner wrote.

“With the exception of Ivanka, [his aides] Avi, Cassidy, and [acting White House chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney, I didn’t tell anyone at the White House — including the president.”

Bannon threatened Kushner after being lectured about leaking to the press

Another Trump White House official portrayed as a hothead in Mr Kushner’s book is former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was one of the earliest exits from the White House after clashing with chief of staff John Kelly.

According to Mr Kushner, one of his most heated moments in the administration’s four years occurred when he complained to Mr Bannon about his leaks to White House reporters about Gary Cohn, one of Mr Trump’s economic advisers.

The former Breitbart chief supposedly shot back in anger: “Jared, right now, you’re the one undermining the President’s agenda … and if you go against me, I will break you in half. Don’t f*** with me.”

He even threatened to leak criticism or damaging information to reporters about Mr Kushner himself in another episode before his eventual firing, according to Mr Kushner, who says that Mr Bannon threatened to “leak out on you 28 ways from Sunday”.

For all the president’s long-held complaints about the “deep state” working to undermine his presidency, it’s clear that Mr Trump’s closest advisers were among those who were disparaging members of the administration in the press.

Rupert Murdoch stood up to Kushner on election night

It’s widely known that the Trump campaign furiously called Fox News on election night 2020 after the Trump-friendly cable news network called Arizona before other news organisations and declared Joe Biden the winner of the state. What’s not known is what Rupert Murdoch said to high-level Trump campaign officials when they attempted to pressure the network to retract the call.

Until now. According to Mr Kushner, Mr Murdoch himself defended the numbers being analysed by Fox News’s decision desk, and told the White House aide “the numbers are ironclad”.

“I dialed Rupert Murdoch and asked why Fox News had made the Arizona call before hundreds of thousands of votes were tallied,” he writes. “Rupert said he would look into the issue, and minutes later he called back.”

“‘Sorry Jared, there is nothing I can do,’” he said. “‘The Fox News data authority says the numbers are ironclad – he says it won’t be close.’”

Mr Trump would go on to contest the results of Arizona and other swing states for months, though recounts and analyses of the vote by election authorities around the country failed to back up any of his claims of fraud.

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