Just a month ago, Jared Kushner seemed to be on his way to running the Executive Branch of the United States by default, as Donald Trump kept handing his son-in-law more power and oversight in a fit of nepotism. But reports over the past week now have Trump and Kushner at odds with each other (link). Even more oddly, Kushner is now rather clearly steering Trump on a path toward surefire ruin when it comes to the Russia scandal – and you have to wonder if it’s intentional.
Consider the sequence of events. Anyone with even a cursory understanding of the situation knew that Donald Trump’s very worst move would have been to fire FBI Director James Comey in the middle of the Russia investigation. Trump might as well have admitted he’s guilty when he did it, and the move unleashed swift wrath from all sides. Comey has secret memos, and his associates are leaking the details. And now there’s a special prosecutor breathing down Trump’s neck as a result of the firing. So who was behind the decision to fire Comey? According to a CBS reporter (link), it was Jared Kushner.
When that special prosecutor was put in place, guess who gave Donald Trump the worst possible advice to immediately go on the attack? According to the New York Times (link), it was once again Jared Kushner. And when Trump lied to a reporter today about his interactions with Comey in a way that’s sure to backfire on him once the memos are released, video showed Kushner smirking while sitting in the audience (link).
So there’s no doubt that Jared Kushner is now trying to steer his father-in-law toward going out in a blaze of glory. The only question is why. You might expect an anarchist like Steve Bannon to instinctively push Trump to go down firing. But Kushner is too smart and too pragmatic to honestly believe he’s giving Trump good advice here. For some reason, Kushner now seems to be trying cement and accelerate Trump’s demise. There may be a few possible reasons for that.
The most earnest view might be that Ivanka Trump has now concluded her father is finished in the White House one way or the other, and she’s leaning on her husband Kushner to bring it to a head and get it over with quickly. The most pragmatic might be that Ivanka wants her father out of the public eye as quickly as possible before he finishes destroying the brand that she plans to continue overseeing for decades. The most cynical might be that Kushner has never liked Trump, and now that he can no longer use him to get ahead, he’s simply trying to finish him off out of spite.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report