WDC welcomed investigative reporter, author, and magazine columnist Vicky Ward to discuss her New York Times best-selling book Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. Based in New York, Ms. Ward has covered primarily finance, art, and culture, before turning her attention to Washington politics for this book.
Among Ms. Ward’s interesting findings were that Jared had come from a complicated and troubled family; that although Ivanka and Jared were expected to be a moderating influence on Trump, they had been anything but, using their position in the White House for commercial gain and creating serious problems for the country along the way; and that Trump had wanted them to go back to New York but ultimately couldn’t bring himself to fire them.
Ms. Ward begins her story by going back to the Kushner’s grandparents, Holocaust survivors, who fled Poland during World War II. The family’s collective harrowing experiences during World War II never left their consciousness even after they finally made it to America and even though Joseph Kushner, Jared’s grandfather, was able to rise from a construction worker to a real estate magnate. As a family friend and colleague of Joseph’s son, Charles, said, “A lot of these children who are brought up with a survivor mode, where the parents had survived, they don’t trust a lot of people.” The children grew up distrusting “rules,” believing that they didn’t apply to them. Family bonds were what really mattered. And money. And power.
Ivanka, meanwhile, though brought up surrounded by wealth, felt lonely and disregarded by her mother and father. One example Ms Ward gave was of Ivanka arriving at Choate boarding school in a limousine—by herself. She so wanted a family that she was immediately attracted to the Kushners—so much so that she converted to Judaism in order to be accepted as a marriage prospect. Then came the image building, as the two strove to become members of the movers and shakers of New York society. Jared went on the buy the “New York Observer” newspaper and then the building at 666 Fifth Avenue, for $1.8 billion--the highest price ever paid for a New York building, notoriously a huge real estate failure. It was this couple who arrived at the White House shortly after Trump’s inauguration. On their arrival in Washington, despite any outward appearances, they were struggling under the baggage of Kushner’s financial failings, Ivanka’s ineffectiveness in the face of her father’s imperial aspirations, and their own naïveté, combined with boundless ambition.
This is merely a sliver of the story that investigative reporter Vicky Ward narrates after her time covering “Trump, Inc.” The audience listened in captivated silence. After her presentation, Ms. Ward took a few minutes to answer questions from the audience, and at the conclusion of the program, to sign copies of her book, a supply of which were provided by Politics and Prose. The books completely sold out!