Last night, “Axios on HBO” aired Jonathan Swan’s interview with Trump Senior Advisor Jared Kushner. Although Swan is a deft interviewer, he did not need to be. The subject of the interview had no trouble taking himself down on his own. While the entire interview is cringeworthy, perhaps the most laughable part is Kushner’s struggle to address Swan’s questions regarding Donald Trump and racism. Rather than confidently present cogent talking points, Kushner appeared at a loss for words, squirming in the face of the truth while proving himself incapable of defending his father-in-law’s presidency.
Swan began with a softball question. Citing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s accusations of racism against Trump, Swan asked Kushner if he “has ever seen him say or do anything” that would support the idea that Trump is racist or bigoted. Not surprisingly, Kushner said no. But then he boxed himself in by saying, “You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then run for President and be a racist.” That argument might work for a President whose accusations of racism stand in stark contrast to a lifetime of fighting for civil rights and equality. But Trump’s resume is littered with hate, from his housing discrimination in the 1970s, to his rush to call for the death of the Central Park Five in the 1980s, and beyond.
Rather than reach back in history, Swan cleverly chose perhaps the two most egregious examples of Trump’s racism that fall within the most recent part of the long period Kushner just carved out. First, Swan asked Kushner, “Was birtherism racist?” Kushner could not bring himself to say no. Instead, the best he could do was repeat the phrase, “I wasn’t involved in that” before adding the copout, “Look, I know who the President is, and I have not seen anything in him that is racist.” Swan then rephrased his question, asking Kushner simply for his opinion on whether Trump should have promoted birtherism. For the fourth time, Kushner uttered, “I was not involved in that.” He then falsely noted, “That was a long time ago,” as if Swan had indeed reached far back in history to find some obscure, isolated incident of alleged racism.
Swan moved on to his other recent example of Trump’s pre-presidential racism. “The other issue that often gets brought up in this conversation is that he campaigned on banning Muslims. Would you describe that as religiously bigoted?” Kushner’s reply managed to be even more pathetic than his last one. He started with a truism that explains nothing: “Look, I think the President did his campaign the way he did his campaign.” Then, like before, Swan asked Kushner if he wished Trump did not campaign in this way. Rather than answer the question, Kushner could only say, “I think he’s here today and I think he’s doing a lot of great things for the country, and that’s what I’m proud of.” It sounds like Kushner is in dire need of his own Senior Advisor.