Inside Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s Two Months of Magical Thinking

dandyfopp

Inside Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s Two Months of Magical Thinking

Obsessed with impeachment and their enemies and worried about the stock market, the president and his son-in-law scapegoated HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and treated the coronavirus as mostly a political problem as it moved through the country.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/04/donald-trump-jared-kushners-two-months-of-magical-thinking


On the afternoon of Thursday, March 19, Donald Trump sat in the Oval Office obsessing over the beaches in Florida. CNN footage of shirtless spring breakers packed onto the sand while the coronavirus pandemic raged sparked national outrage—and pressure on Trump to act. The next morning, New York governor Andrew Cuomo would announce strict stay-at-home orders for residents, but Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis refused to close his state’s beaches, a position even Florida’s Republican senator Rick Scott called reckless. “Lots of people were telling Trump to lean on Ron,” a Trump adviser said.

Trump’s view of the situation was complicated, though. For weeks, his top medical advisers, Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, had been hectoring him about the seriousness of the crisis and the necessity of swift action, testing, lockdowns. “We knew from the beginning...we were going to get cases in the United States,” Fauci told me.


“We knew we were in for a very serious problem.”


Sometimes, Trump listened. The disease was coming closer to his own circle—chief of staff Mark Meadows and communications director Stephanie Grisham were self-quarantining—and the number of cases in New York City had reached 4,000. But the substrate of his thinking hadn’t evolved, and it kept reappearing. He worried about the economy, which was crucial to his reelection. He vented to friends that the doctors were alarmist, and that the crisis was something Democrats and the media were doing to him. “Trump was obsessed with Pelosi, Schiff, the media, just obsessed. He would say, ‘They’re using it against me!’ recalled a Republican in frequent contact with the White House. “It was unhinged.”


Florida was a test case of his magical thinking about the novel coronavirus: That it was temporary, that warm weather would make it disappear. But eight Florida residents had already died from COVID-19 and more than 400 had been diagnosed. “Given the elderly population, if that took off, it would be a nightmare,” a person close to Trump told me. At an adviser’s urging, Trump called DeSantis to tell him to shut down the beaches.

“Ron, what are you doing down there?” Trump said, according to a person briefed on the call.


“I can’t ban people from going on the beach,” DeSantis snapped, surprising Trump.


“These pictures look really bad to the rest of the country,” Trump said.

“Listen, we’re doing it the right way,” DeSantis said.


DeSantis’s intransigence backed Trump into a corner. The 41-year-old governor was a Trump protégé and a crucial ally in a must-win state. “Trump is worried about Florida, electorally,” said a Republican who spoke with Trump around this time. Trump did something he rarely does: He caved. He told DeSantis the beaches could stay open.


“I understand what you’re saying,” Trump said, and hung up.


It was inevitable that Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar would become the West Wing COVID-19 scapegoat. An avuncular Yale educated lawyer with owlish glasses and a beard, Azar was not, as Trump liked to say, out of central casting. Equally bad, Azar was a “Bushie,” as Trump called Republicans who served in George W. Bush’s administration. Azar was briefed on a new and dangerous coronavirus sweeping the Chinese city of Wuhan by CDC director Robert Redfield on January 3—but he struggled to communicate this knowledge to the president. At the time of the outbreak, Trump had soured on Azar, whom he blamed for his weak health care polling numbers.


“Trump thought Azar was a disaster. He is definitely on the gangplank,” a person close to Trump told me. Azar wasn’t able to speak to Trump about the virus for two weeks, even though Trump called him during this period to scream that the White House’s ban on e-cigarettes, a response to a health crisis that he believed could help him politically, had become a drag on his poll numbers. “I never should have done this f--king vaping thing!” Trump told Azar on January 17, a person familiar with the call told me.


When Azar finally told Trump about the outbreak on the phone at Mar-a-Lago, on the night of Saturday, January 18, Trump cut him off and launched into another e-cigarette rant. “Trump jumped his sh-t about vaping,” a person briefed on the phone call told me.


Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, shared Trump’s view that the media and Democrats were hyping the crisis for political purposes. And for both of them, the biggest worry was how the response to the coronavirus might impact the health of the economy. According to sources, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, a fierce China hawk, and deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, a former China-based Wall Street Journal reporter who’d covered the 2003 SARS pandemic, argued to officials in mid-January that the White House needed to shut down incoming flights from China.


Kushner pushed back. “Jared kept saying the stock market would go down, and Trump wouldn’t get reelected,” a Republican briefed on the internal debates said (a person close to Kushner denies this). Kushner’s position was supported by Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council chief Larry Kudlow. Trump sided with them. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump minimized the threat in his first public comments. “It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control,” he told CNBC. (The White House and Treasury Department deny Mnuchin and Kudlow were against closing flights.)


When the coronavirus exploded out of China, Kushner was the second most powerful person in the West Wing, exerting influence over virtually every significant decision, from negotiating trade deals to 2020 campaign strategy to overseeing Trump’s impeachment defense. “Jared is running everything. He’s the de facto president of the United States,” a former White House official told me. The previous chief of staff John Kelly, who’d marginalized Kushner, was long gone, and Mick Mulvaney, a virtual lame duck by that point, let Kushner run free. “Jared treats Mick like the help,” a prominent Republican said.


Kushner’s princely arrogance had been a fixture in the West Wing since Trump’s inauguration. “The family has a degree of trust and protection that no one else enjoys,” the former West Wing official said. Kushner can appear mild-mannered, but, like his father-in-law, he seemed to relish the power he derived from crushing adversaries. After Trump’s acquittal, Kushner helped orchestrate a purge of national security officials that testified against the president. According to a source, Kushner provided the White House’s 29-year-old personnel director, John McEntee, with a list of names to be fired. ("In no way shape or form did Jared provide a list to Johnny McEntee on people to be fired," a source familiar with the matter said).


During his time in the West Wing, Kushner had become hardened to a degree that was sometimes shocking. The days of selling the notion that he and Ivanka were moderating forces were long gone—combat was everything. A New York business executive recalled a meeting with Kushner at the White House last fall. “I told Jared that if Trump won a second term, he wouldn’t have to worry about running again and you can really help people. Jared just looked at me and said, ‘I don’t care about any of that.’” The executive came away shaken. “I wanted to tell Jared you don’t say that part out loud, even in private,” he later said. (A source close to Kushner says he has no recollection of making the comment.)


Kushner had an enemies list as long as Trump’s, and at times it played into his response to the crisis. He scoffed when his old nemesis, Steve Bannon, launched a podcast called War Room: Pandemic in January. “Steve’s a dead man. Last he was seen, he was standing on the side of the FDR Drive with the squeegee guys,” Kushner told a Republican around this time.


Kushner also had a famously unshakable belief in his own judgment. According to sources, Trump’s former Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert told Kushner in early March that the White House needed to step up its coronavirus response. “Tom tried sounding the alarm with Jared,” said a person who spoke to Bossert at the time. (Bossert denies this.) Kushner, according to the person, dismissed Bossert’s concerns. Bossert later published his advice in a Washington Post op-ed. “Tom was hammering him: ‘You have to get on this.’ No one listened, so he wrote the op-ed,” a former West Wing official said. Bossert later told people that Kushner icily told him the op-ed was a mistake. (Bossert denies this.)


Navarro and Pottinger finally convinced Trump to stop the flights when they showed him that more than 400,000 people had entered the U.S. from China since early January. “Trump was stunned by the sheer scale,” a Republican briefed on the meeting told me. “Navarro banged on the table enough to get the flights stopped.” On January 31, Trump barred travel from China. Even then, it was a half measure: the ban only applied to non-Americans who had traveled to China in the previous 14 days. American citizens could come and go.


Trump saw this as the end of the story—he’d taken strong public action, built his China Wall. Now, he looked forward to hitting the campaign trail and trumpeting the booming stock market. “He just wanted to hold rallies and watch television,” a former West Wing official said. “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China,” Trump told Sean Hannity during a pre–Super Bowl interview on February 2. He held a half dozen rallies over the next month.


But it was just the beginning.


MORE https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/04/donald-trump-jared-kushners-two-months-of-magical-thinking

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how2girl

And the rest is history...but the future is scary

When the coronavirus exploded out of China, Kushner was the second most powerful person in the West Wing, exerting influence over virtually every significant decision, from negotiating trade deals to 2020 campaign strategy to overseeing Trump’s impeachment defense. Jared is running everything. He’s the de facto president of the United States,” a former White House official told me. The previous chief of staff John Kelly, who’d marginalized Kushner, was long gone, and Mick Mulvaney, a virtual lame duck by that point, let Kushner run free. “Jared treats Mick like the help,” a prominent Republican said.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

As much as I dislike Trump, Kushner somehow seems worse to me. How is that even possible?

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Ziemia(6a)

Trump is a failure during a crisis. He crumples. And won't let those around him help.

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b(zone 9/10)

They're a gang.

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socks(10a)

K says we’ll be back to normal by June. That is impossible. Shows us how disconnected he is.

Edited to add: These people have never lived "normal" lives like most Americans. They are well lodged in their golden tower and see the world as "us" and "them."

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Michele

They are all very sick. In the head.

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dublinbay z6 (KS)

He just wanted to hold rallies and watch television.

Our president.

Kate

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jerzeegirl (FL zone 9B)(9b)

This is an excellent article. I read it to the last word. The scary takeaway from the article is that Jared is the shadow president.

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Kathy

We have no idea what is being demolished in this corrupt WH.

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mr1010

Kushner's comment yesterday calling Trump's handling of the pandemic as

"A Great Success Story" shows you their position and philosophy about protecting

the safety and health of the American public.

We are all the "Little People".

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Kathy

The disparity will be so great after this we will be working just to keep our heads above water. Forget entertainment. The prices will be such only the wealthy will be able to travel or attend venues.

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KarenS, NYC

I saw a snippet of Jared talking abt the 'Great Success Story' & I'm thinking "what planet are you on?" Where is the success in 60,000+ dead w/no end in sight?

I guess unless & until someone in his own family gets the Virus, this is just a little economic hiccup to him & he's only concerned abt endangering the re-election; Yikes!

KarenS, NYC

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chisue

OT: What do you suppose the other kids called a boy called "Jared"? Sorry, I know it's mean-sprited. It just keeps popping up in my head.

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Michele

Looks like ivanka found herself a boy just like dear old dad.

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paprikash

Haters love to hate

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maifleur03

bump

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Izzy Mn(4)

Adding to a Kushner thread.

Kushner may have held back assistance to "Democratic" states fighting the virus.


https://www.businessinsider.com/kushner-covid-19-plan-maybe-axed-for-political-reasons-report-2020-7

The whole family is evil. I've been making references to Jared as Damion from the movie, The Omen. It's coming true.

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Gizmo

paprikash

Haters love to hate

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Maybe it's a liberal thing, but we don't get off on abuse.

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barncatz

Izzy, the article I read said that Kushner was in charge of a group tasked with insuring an adequate federal response to testing. (There were no health or epidemic experts involved, but that's a different complaint.)

A plan was put together but at that time mostly blue states were slammed, so they nixed it and threw it back to the states, hoping the Democratic leaders would bear the blame as it spread.

Evil has to evil.


https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/how-jared-kushners-secret-testing-plan-went-poof-into-thin-air

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Kathy

I just had a news notification the govt has 44M N95 masks stashed while medical personnel are pleading for more. Who is he saving them for?

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batyabeth

“He just wanted to hold rallies and watch television,”

Still. Yet. I always has great suspicion about Jared. He's a dangerous, spiteful man. Just what FIL wanted. Let's get them ALL unemployed by the American people as soon as possible.

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arthurm2015(Micro-Climate, Zone 10b Sydney, Australia)

I wondered how this very old political system could work???? Then I thought maybe if the President (King) selected the best from the huge talent pool available in the USA, it might.

Perhaps the guys said to be the best had that pool of talent and mostly heeded their advice?

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lurker111

Someone wastes a lot of time writing this type of garbage. I guess it's what crazy people do. Inside the mind of schizophrenic liberal propagandist. No, I didn't read beyond the first half of the title.

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Gizmo

Izzy Mn(4)

Adding to a Kushner thread.

Kushner may have held back assistance to "Democratic" states fighting the virus.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Not really much difference from a few of the posters here a few months back, who, when the Trump virus was decimating NY/NYC - they didn't care because it was a 'crat' or 'Democrat' city/state... and didn't think NY/NYC should be helped just for that reason alone.


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bfox254

Their gross negligence contributed to thousands of needless deaths. They have blood on their hands.

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lurker111

It's best to keep your imagination locked inside your head.

BTW, we cared more about NY than their leaders did. I feel sorry for the people who live there. Now, they are flat out lying about the numbers. Must be sad, living in such a delusional state.

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HU-274840647

Who is the “we” in that sentence?

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ohiomom

So the Tweeter and his boy thought that "their people" would not get the virus? Interesting how twisted tweeters think.

Evict this fool from the people's house!

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bfox254

It's interesting now that red states are being ravaged by the virus, he still doesn't seem to care. Guess Donnie and Jared didn't realize the virus doesn't respect state borders. Maybe Trump thinks his supporters won't notice if he doesn't talk about it. There's 150,000+ dead and still no plan.

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bleusblue2

I hadn't seen this OP until I posted it myself I've just deleted that one and repost my comment here:


Decision: Let Covid19 reign in Blue States


I just watched Glenn Kirschner's nightly comment on youtube. He made the shocking statement that Jared Kushner abandoned one Covid19 testing plan because he saw that the virus was hitting BLUE states harder than the Red -- thus it would be politically more useful to let it ride so the Democrat Governors could be blamed for the uptick. I found it so hard to believe that I immediately interrupted his talk and searched the web. This is only one of the reports. I can tell you I would be pleased if this were false.


https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/trumps-war-on-blue-states-is-worse-than-previously-thought.html


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