The New York Times has published a piece on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s White House experience thus far that is one part puff, one part backhanded look at the disconnect between their public and work lives. There were items we already knew (the left is mad at them, they don’t always get what they want from the president) and some we didn’t (they now plan to stay in Washington, they’re ready to play bigger roles in the White House). Below are the dramatic pieces of inside the Beltway gossip you need to know.
1. The Couple Traded Ethics For Power
That Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were poised to be the compassionate heart of the administration was no coincidence — the couple created that brand themselves. “They themselves promoted the idea that they would save us,” Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen told The New York Times.
But as a flurry of advisors have come and gone in the hectic administration, the couple has instead chosen to remain silent and toe the administration line in exchange for the President Donald Trump’s ear. Ivanka Trump positioned herself as the administration’s champion for families and women, but stayed silent on the family separations at the border until her father said he’d stop it, indicating she doesn’t personally support the policy, but won’t go against the president either.
Taking complicity a step further, Ivanka Trump reportedly betrayed her position as the defender of women’s interests by meeting with Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards in hopes of bribing her to cut abortion services from the national women’s health organization entirely in exchange for federal funding.
The pay-off for handing over their moral standing is favor with the president. The Times article describes the couple as being the only people in Washington to consistently have President Trump’s ear, making them a powerful proxy even Republican legislators have to go through to get a few minutes on the phone with the commander in chief.
2. They’ve Transformed Into “Political Creatures”
Initially, the business-minded couple made it clear they had no plans to make a life in politics. With thriving businesses based in New York, Ivanka Trump once said she and Kushner had no intention of staying in D.C. long enough to become “political creatures” who are “so principled that they get nothing done,” a source close to the couple told The New York Times.
But the couple have quickly reduced Manhattan to a pit-stop and made Washington their home. Ivanka Trump officially shut down her namesake fashion brand earlier this week, letting all employees go with severance. This marks a permanent change for the president’s daughter, as she steers further away from business and towards politics.
Eighteen months later, there’s no question Ivanka Trump and Kushner are staying. They have managed to stick around as experienced aides come and go and, as family members, even had some expectations lowered on their behalf. “Any suggestion that they were going to leave the White House was just ridiculous,” treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Times.
3. The Couple Is Image Obsessed
The couple has been in the public eye for years, and they are laser-focused on their image. Determined to be the likable face of a hectic administration, the couple entertains lawmakers and Washington influencers to ease tensions, “over cocktails and comfort food.” Cautious not to alienate, these get-togethers reach across the aisle, including apparent enemies of President Trump like Democratic legislators, Cecile Richards, and A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the (as President Trump would say, “failing”) New York Times.
On occasions when their power temporarily wanes, the couple goes to great lengths to keep up appearances to the contrary. Kushner’s team recently used misleading language to infer to press that his security clearances had been restored long before they actually had.
They also know how to work President Trump’s fixation on his own own image to their advantage. Kushner was responsible for steering Kim Kardashian West into a well-publicized Oval Office meeting to discuss pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, knowing that the celebrity power would grab Trump’s attention despite his advisors’ disapproval.