Insiders describe Kushner as ‘de facto president’ who played key role in delaying coronavirus closures: report
White House insiders describe President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner as a “de facto president” who has played a key role in the administration’s response to coronavirus, according to a Vanity Fair report released Tuesday.
In the article, titled “Inside Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s Two Months of Magical Thinking,” sources described Kushner as the second most powerful person in the West Wing when COVID-19 began to spread across the globe.
“Jared is running everything. He’s the de facto president of the United States,” a former White House official said.
The 39-year-old real estate developer, married to the president’s eldest daughter Ivanka Trump, reportedly has broad access in the White House and is keen on seeing his father-in-law reelected.
A New York business executive who spoke with Vanity Fair reportedly recalled meeting with Kushner last fall and leaving feeling shaken.
“I told Jared that if Trump won a second term, he wouldn’t have to worry about running again and you can really help people. Jared just looked at me and said, ‘I don’t care about any of that,’ ” the executive told the outlet.
Later, the executive added: “I wanted to tell Jared you don’t say that part out loud, even in private.”
A source close to Kushner said he has no recollection of making the remark, according to Vanity Fair.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
Kushner and Trump both chalked up the coronavirus crisis to Democrats and the media bent on hurting the president politically.
Although White House trade adviser Peter Navarro encouraged officials to shut down incoming flights from China in mid-January to help stem the spread of coronavirus, Kushner was reportedly against the idea.
“Jared kept saying the stock market would go down and Trump wouldn’t get reelected,” one Republican who was allegedly briefed on the internal debates told Vanity Fair.
On Jan. 31, Trump barred non-Americans who had traveled to China in the previous 14 days from entering the U.S. before returning his attention to his eventual acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial, as well as his reelection campaign.
Over the next several weeks, Kushner reportedly took over more control regarding the White House’s response to the pandemic, Vanity Fair reported.
The day before Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus on March 13, Kushner was reportedly added to the official coronavirus task force by Vice President Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short.
While Pence was the public face of the task force, Kushner built a “shadow network” of advisers, the outlet reported.
“Pence people look at Jared apprehensively. Pence treats Jared as a peer,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide.
Kushner on Wednesday expressed optimism that much of the country could be “back to normal” by June as several states prepare to lift stay-at-home orders.
“I think what you’ll see in May as the states are reopening now is May will be a transition month, you’ll see a lot of states starting to phase in the different reopening based on the safety guidelines that President Trump outlined on April 19,” Kushner said on “Fox & Friends.”
“I think you’ll see by June that a lot of the country should be back to normal, and the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again,” the president’s son-in-law continued.
Kushner praised the federal response to the pandemic, which has featured bipartisan cooperation and been a “great success story.”
“The federal government rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story,” he said. “And I think that’s really what needs to be told.”
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