According to a new report by Vanity Fair reporter Gabriel Sherman, tensions between Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have reached new heights as the president begins to realize the magnitude of his own screw-up in failing to react quickly and decisively enough to respond to the spread of the COVID-19 virus across America.
Trump being Trump and unable to accept personal responsibility for anything that doesn’t make him look good, is naturally seeking scapegoats, and he’s apparently found one living with his daughter Ivanka.
According to Sherman’s White House sources, Trump is “livid” at Kushner whom he blames for “the White House’s inept and flat-footed response.”
“I have never heard so many people inside the White House openly discuss how pissed Trump is at Jared,” one former West Wing official told Vanity Fair.
The president is reportedly remorseful about taking his son-in-law’s advice to treat the outbreak like a public relations problem rather than as the public health emergency that experts such as the White House’s chief coronavirus adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, were advising him to do.
While Fauci and other health experts were urging Trump to take aggressive measures to stave off the rapid spread of the virus, one former White House official described Kushner as egotistically inserting himself into the high-level discussions as the go-to uber-mensch who could jump in to save the day.
“This was Jared saying the world needs me to solve another problem,” the official described the situation.
Kushner reportedly consulted his sister-in-law’s father — Dr. Kurt Kloss, who is an emergency room physician — for advice on how to deal with the crisis. Kloss promptly went to Facebook to solicit advice from his friends.
Kushner apparently insisted that the president not declare a national emergency when he addressed the nation from the Oval Office last Wednesday out of fear that “it would tank the markets.”
We can all see how well that worked out, with the markets plunging despite his failure to declare a nationwide state of emergency — or perhaps exactly because he failed to do so — and two valuable days were lost until Trump was forced to make the declaration on Friday in a move considered several days late and billions of dollars short. Ironically, when Trump finally did declare an emergency, the markets spiked on the news albeit temporarily.
Trump also blames Kushner for over-hyping the progress and capabilities of Google’s coronavirus testing website which the president cited as soon to be operational when in fact it was still only in prototype testing in only the Bay Area near Silicon Valley and wouldn’t be available to all Americans until some unknown future date.
The gaffe, which the media quickly jumped all over, made Trump seem even more clueless than usual.
“Jared told Trump that Google was doing an entire website that would be up in 72 hours and had 1,100 people working on it 24/7. That’s just a lie,” a source with knowledge of the internal briefings told Vanity Fair.
When asked to comment on the allegations in the article, the White House response was predictable.
“This is just another false story focused on rumors about palace intrigue instead of the actual aggressive measures President Trump has implemented to keep the American people safe and healthy,” the president’s spokesperson said.
The defensiveness from the Oval Office comes on a day that Trump looked and acted as if he’d rather be anywhere else during this afternoon’s press conference as viewers watching he and his advisory team speak about limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people while the stock ticker plunged downward with every word the president uttered.
It didn’t help that while others were speaking, Trump stood behind them with his eyes closed, looking like he was falling asleep from boredom, sedatives, or perhaps sleepless nights caused by the panic of seeing his reelection chances — and his presidential criminal immunity — flowing away like fluid in an intravenous line.
“This is not what he likes to do,” a former Trump official said. “There’s no boogeyman he can attack.”
That hasn’t stopped Trump from trying, as he continued to attack political opponents on Twitter, including taking shots at Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today.
At least his animosity towards his son-in-law has stayed mostly behind closed doors.
Still, the former West Wing official who noted that this type of crisis is not in the president’s wheelhouse was not optimistic about where things would go from here as he contemplated Trump cooped up in the White House, unable to go out to play golf or hold ego-gratifying rallies, glued to Fox News and tweeting incessantly.
“What’s he going to do, watch reruns of the Masters from 2017? He’s just going to watch TV and tweet and it’s going to get worse,” the former official said.
And it won’t get better until he’s out of the White House…for good.
Original reporting by Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.