Kushner told Woodward in April Trump was 'getting the country back from the doctors'

White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPompeo becomes first top US diplomat to visit Israeli settlement, labels boycotts anti-Semitic NYT's Bruni suggests Ivanka Trump, Kushner move to North Korea or Saudi Arabia With Biden, a Saudi reboot MORE in April told journalist Bob Woodward that the country had progressed in its response to the coronavirus pandemic to the point where President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE was "back in charge" and "getting the country back from the doctors."

Kushner, who is also the president's son-in-law, told Woodward on April 18 that the country was moving into what he deemed the "comeback phase." The comments came one day after Trump tweeted out support for people protesting against coronavirus-related restrictions with calls to "liberate" Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia.

"There were three phases. There’s the panic phase, the pain phase and then the comeback phase. I do believe that last night symbolized kind of the beginning of the comeback phase," Kushner told Woodward, according to an audio recording published by CNN.


"That doesn’t mean there’s not still a lot of pain and there won’t be pain for a while, but that basically was — we’ve now put out rules to get back to work," he continued. "Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors. They’ve kind of — we have, like, a negotiated settlement."

Kushner told Woodward that working out guidelines allowing parts of the economy to reopen "was almost like Trump getting the country back from the doctors. Right? In the sense that what he now did was, you know, he’s going to own the open-up."

The comments came in April, when the country had managed to reduce infection rates and improve hospital capacity after the administration promoted an initiative to "slow the spread" for 30 days by encouraging social distancing and mask wearing.

Trump told Woodward in February and March that he was aware the virus was dangerous and could spread through the air, but that he wanted to intentionally play down its severity to avoid causing panic, according to previously released recordings.

But in the six months since, Trump has agitated for the country to fully reopen, leading to a spike in virus cases. In that same time frame, he has pushed aside medical experts who were leaders on the White House coronavirus task force, including Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight health care: AstraZeneca says its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is up to 90 percent effective It's time for COVID-19 disaster relief ... for mothers Fauci: US could see 'well over 300,000' COVID-19 deaths MORE, Deborah BirxDeborah BirxWhite House largely silent on health precautions for Thanksgiving The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans Fauci, Birx urge Americans to take precautions against virus in rare White House appearance MORE and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield.


The U.S. is in the midst of yet another surge in infections and hospitalizations. The country over the weekend saw a record high seven-day average of reported infections. The virus has killed at least 225,000 Americans, the most reported deaths of any country in the world.

The president still routinely complains about states that he says have been too slow to lift restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus, including at a rally on Tuesday in Michigan.

Kushner told Woodward in April that he believed it would be politically beneficial for Trump to "own the opening" of the country.

"Because again, the opening is going to be very popular," he said. "People want this country open. But if it opens in the wrong way, the question will be, did the governors follow the guidelines we set out or not?"