Washington (CNN)Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, apparently registered to vote as a female, according to his publicly accessible 2009 New York state voter information.
The Brazenness of Trump’s White House Staff Using Private Email
How could six senior presidential aides mimic the strategy for which Trump lacerated Hillary Clinton? Only if they believe they are as immune to the usual rules as he is.
Late Sunday night, Josh Dawsey of Politico dropped a story that, in any other administration, would have been cause for concern but hardly surprise.
“Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December,” Dawsey wrote. “Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up their private family domain late last year before moving to Washington from New York, according to people with knowledge of events as well as publicly available internet registration records.”
On Monday, Newsweek reported that Ivanka Trump had also used the domain to communicate with at least one government official, Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon.* By Monday night, The New York Times had reported that at least six officials, including former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former strategist Steve Bannon, and aides Stephen Miller and Gary Cohn, had used personal accounts for at least some official business.
Administration officials conducting business on personal accounts raises concerns because it suggests some intention to skirt public-records laws and conceal things from the public. While troubling, this is hardly unusual. Sarah Palin was busted for using one. So were officials in the George W. Bush administration. Lisa Jackson, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under Barack Obama, used an alias for her email.
Of course, the most famous example of someone using a personal email is Hillary Clinton. The case of the Javanka domain is brazen for its mimickry of Clinton’s actions at the State Department, right down to the use of a domain specifically for the family. The only way it could be more slapstick would be if Kushner and Trump also used BleachBit.
There are significant ways the Kushner-Ivanka domain differs from Clinton’s. Neither of them is a Cabinet secretary. (Trump, despite her title as special assistant to the president, says she doesn’t even want to get involved in politics.) Neither of them is running for office (at the moment). The scale of their usage pales in comparison to Clinton’s, and there’s no indication that they deleted any emails. Nor is there any indication that classified information was sent in the emails.
So why doesn’t it stick to Trump? After all, he has his own history of ethical and legal shortcomings, one that is more robust and more concretely documented than anything in Clinton’s record. But the same actions don’t necessarily come off the same way. Some of that is simple partisanship: When your guy does it, it’s different from when the other guy does it. Another compelling explanation for why Trump gets away with the things he critiques is that some of his supporters love that he’s a brawler.
Michael Moore laid this line of thinking out in a recent New York Magazine interview. “They loved the brazenness of it. Even when they didn’t necessarily agree with it, they thought, That took balls. They may not personally think McCain’s a coward, but they think, Wow, that’s who I want. Somebody who’s just going to say shit like that,” Moore said. “Americans, they want somebody who stands up for the things that he or she believes in and says it without any apology.”
The extent to which Trump really is the Teflon Don is debatable. It is true that he has survived things that would have killed a lesser politician’s career a dozen times over; it is also true that his approval ratings are record-breakingly low, his administration is nearly devoid of major accomplishments, and he faces a perilous special-counsel investigation. For now, though, he remains standing.
The question is whether that applies to others. Trump’s aides and advisers seem to have come to believe that the force-field of gravity distortion that protects the president will apply to them too. Whether they are right is less clear.
Think of Michael Flynn’s mixing of private- and public-sector work, his decision not to make required disclosures, and his decision to lie to the vice president—and, perhaps, the FBI. Think of Paul Manafort allegedly advising a Russian billionaire even as he ran the Trump campaign. Think of Anthony Scaramucci’s R-rated circus-act of a 10-day tenure as White House communications director. Each of them behaved as though they too were immune to standard pressures. But Flynn was fired and is under multiple investigations. Manafort is too, and his home was raided before down by FBI agents; he has reportedly been told to expect to be indicted. Scaramucci was fired before he’d had a chance to get off the ground.
Kushner, so far, is still standing, but it’s easy to imagine that if he were not related to the president, he too might have been shoved out onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Like his boss and father-in-law, Kushner brings serious liabilities from his business career. He has multiple unexplained contacts with Russian officials, from the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting to a disputed meeting with the head of a Russian state-controlled bank, plus a report that he tried to set up a back channel with Russian officials. His clearance forms were highly incomplete, and he offered an implausible excuse. In fact, there were so many worrying moments that, according to The Wall Street Journal, some of the president’s lawyers wanted Kushner removed from the White House this summer. Trump refused.
A common knock on the Clintons was that they behaved as though the rules did not apply to them. Already, some members of Trump’s inner circle are acting the same way. Feeling immune to ordinary strictures can be alluring, but as Hillary Clinton learned, sometimes you only discover too late that it’s an illusion.
More than a few of my Washington allies noticed a seemingly unremarkable bit of news in a Monday Washington Post article that they thought I ought to see. The article concerned Jared Kushner’s appointment as adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump.
The appointment did not trouble my friends. What troubled them was the Post’s casual mention that Kushner’s attorney was none other than Jamie Gorelick, deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton. Observed the Post, Gorelick “is confident that the anti-nepotism statute does not cover Trump’s appointment of Kushner.”
Nepotism was the thrust of the article. The Post made no allusion to the concerns my friends and I have about this relationship. I assured them that Kushner probably does not know Gorelick’s history. I write this to make him aware of why bloggers have taken to calling Gorelick, “The Mistress of Disaster.”
Some recent highlights. In 2014, it was revealed that the George Soros-funded Urban Institute had an officially sanctioned role in the vetting of non-profits that seek tax-exempt status through the IRS. Gorelick was the vice-chairman of the Urban Institute board.
In 2011, she represented Duke University in its attempt to squash a suit by lacrosse team members whose lives had been turned upside down by false rape accusations that the university aided and abetted. In 2010, Gorelick represented BP in the Deepwater Horizon oil mess. It gets worse, much worse.
In 1993, as deputy attorney general under President Clinton, Gorelick served as “field commander” for the horrific government assault on a religious community in Waco, Texas, that left more than eighty dead, twenty of them children.
In 1995, she went on to pen the infamous “wall” memo that prevented the FBI and CIA from sharing information in the run-up to September 11. At the time, a dismayed FBI investigator wrote a memo to headquarters which included the sentence, “Someday someone will die — and wall or not — the public will not understand why we were not more effective.”
In 1996, Gorelick stepped up her game, taking a lead role in the investigation of the TWA Flight 800 disaster. This was the 747 that inexplicably blew up off the coast of Long Island in July 1996 killing 230 people.
As deputy attorney general serving under a feckless Janet Reno, Gorelick’s assignment was to rein in the FBI. Five weeks into the investigation, she summoned FBI honcho Jim Kallstrom to Washington and served up a dose of political reality. To be sure, no account of the Aug. 22 meeting provides any more than routine detail, but behaviors began to change immediately afterwards.
The FBI had already leaked to the New York Times information that would result in a headline on Aug. 23, top right: “Prime Evidence Found That Device Exploded in Cabin of Flight 800.” This article stole the thunder from Clinton’s election-driven approval of welfare reform in that same day’s paper and threatened to undermine the peace and prosperity message of the next week’s Democratic National Convention.
What followed in the next several weeks was the most ambitious and successful cover-up in American peacetime history. At its center was Gorelick. With the help of a complicit media and the active involvement of the CIA, she and her cronies transformed a transparent missile strike into a mechanical failure of unknown origin.
Given her role, the months after the crash had to have been emotionally harrowing. In May 1997, the Clintons appear to have rewarded Gorelick for her steely performance with a job that would pay her $877,573 in that first half-year alone.
According to a Lexis search, not one reporter even questioned why a middling bureaucrat with no financial or housing experience would be handed the vice chairmanship of Fannie Mae, a sinecure that the Washington Monthly called “the equivalent of winning the lottery.”
Six years and an incredible $25.6 million later, having done her share to wreck the American economy, Gorelick responded to the call of duty once more and took just one of five Democratic seats on the 9/11 Commission.
During the 2004 Commission hearings, CIA Director George Tenet first addressed the “wall that was in place between the criminal side and the intelligence side.” Tenet made that barrier sound impenetrable.
“What’s in a criminal case doesn’t cross over that line. Ironclad regulations,” he insisted. “So that even people in the Criminal Division and the Intelligence Divisions of the FBI couldn’t talk to each other, let alone talk to us or us talk to them.”
In her response to Tenet, Gorelick acknowledged the wall and claimed to have used “brute force” in her attempt to penetrate it, but she took no responsibility for its creation. The task of assigning credit was left to Attorney General John Ashcroft.
“The single greatest structural cause for Sept. 11 was the wall,” said Ashcroft. “Full disclosure compels me to inform you that its author is a member of the commission.” That author, of course, was Gorelick, the same official who oversaw the cooperation of the FBI and the CIA in the corruption of the TWA 800 investigation.
As the nation learned in the aftermath of 9/11, the “wall” that was breached all too easily to protect the secrets of TWA 800 held much too firmly when it came to the secrets of our enemies.
Jared, don’t trust her! If need be, I would be happy to sit in a room with Ms. Gorelick and hash this out.
Exclusive — Michigan Trump Voters Lose Faith: ‘It’s Gone So Far Now the Wrong Way’
DETROIT, Michigan — President Trump’s base appears to be growing concerned with the direction of his administration, against the backdrop of a number of drastic policy shifts from the campaign period as well as his first few weeks in office.
As the notorious “first 100 days” mark rushes up on him, President Trump will have to perform a careful balancing act between the two evident camps in the White House: the nationalists and the globalists, between which a real reconciliation looks unlikely.
The former appears to be supported by the campaign’s base — the people who put Trump in office. The latter appears to appeal to the President on the grounds of more positive headlines, less contentious policy issues as far as establishment media coverage is concerned, and his preternatural, New York liberal outlook.
It’s not all bad news for the President, but it is a warning to be heeded. Here in Michigan, Trump voters, campaigners, and low-level donors expressed concern to this Breitbart News correspondent on the recent change in his direction — citing the travel ban, border control, and the power of his relatives in his administration as key areas of concern.
“We’re watching a man who can take action every single day,” Jeff, a long-standing Trump supporter, told me. He went on:
He doesn’t need to go to Congress. He can take action. We’re watching him carefully. We’re talking about people who have lives to live. Grandchildren to take care of. And we’re watching actions day to day and they’re falling flat. They’re receding from why we put the man there, and it is extremely, it is more than stressful. We’re keeping track, we’re watching it. We do not want to hear about family members having an impact. We voted. We have high expectations for impact.
Not everyone was so glum, however. One local cab driver dismissed such concerns, telling me that President Trump would listen to whomever he had to on a variety of issues, and if they tried to “bounce him” too much, he’d push back, perhaps even stop listening.
I asked him, given his sunny disposition on the issue, “Do you think the border wall will be built?”
He shot me a wry smile in his rear view mirror: “No. But I don’t think it matters.”
“I might take a permanent break [from Trump]!” said Cindy, a local Republican Party activists who admits to having preferred Sen. Ted Cruz in the primaries.
“Oh no you’re not!” her friend shot back. They laughed heartily about her irritation, but she continued still: “I look every day to see if he put that [travel] ban on. I look every day,” she said, insisting that the White House had not done enough to force through President Trump’s executive order pausing the flow of refugees and calling for extreme vetting.
Some even stated they’d be hard to win back, even though it’s been fewer than 100 days for President Trump’s administration.
Perhaps, I thought, their frustration emanates from the fact that candidate Trump promised so much on “day one.” His blunt approach during the campaign perhaps lulled supporters into thinking these were literal “day one” promises. He had said during the campaign that “day one” would include imposing Congressional term limits, repealing Obamacare, deporting illegal immigrants, fixing Veteran’s Affairs, redressing the balance of NATO, getting rid of gun free zones in schools, and a whole lot more.
Although President Trump swiftly acted on some issues such as “ending the war on coal” and appears to be moving toward a renegotiation of NAFTA, on others, he has performed a complete 180-degree turn, evidenced this week by his chumminess with NATO’s Secretary General, and a U-turn on replacing Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen and his prior disdain for the Export-Import Bank.
He relied heavily on these issues in his campaign videos, especially the ones targeted at The Great Lakes State in the final few weeks of the 2016 campaign:
While these names were not first to the lips of the dozens I spoke to in Michigan — which I am not claiming is science — they did stress their growing disaffection with the executive branch.
“I feel like it’s gone so far now the wrong way that it’s going to take something magnificent on his part to get people back. We’re fish that are off the hook right now. He only has one small chance to get us hooked again,” Penny, a middle-aged lady from Sterling Heights, told me, adding:
Jared and Ivanka were not on the ballot. I did not vote for them, nor would I if given the opportunity. There is a reason we have anti-nepotism rules. The fact that they were aided by the odious Jamie Gorelick in circumventing those rules pours salt in our wounds. Now it looks like the counterbalance of Bannon and Kellyanne is being marginalized. President Trump seems to have forgotten the loyal supporters who have been behind him since the early primary days. I feel so very betrayed.
And being in Detroit, a common theme was Islam and Muslim immigration. All bar one person I spoke to on the matter agreed that the Muslim Brotherhood should be designated as a terrorist organisation, and that refugee resettlement into the United States needs immediate curtailment.
With what I gathered in Dearborn and Hamtramck — as research for my upcoming book — I was hardly surprised.
“There is at least 50 people I know that are disappointed that the Hijra to America is continuing,” Cindy said, concluding: “Lay off the Freedom Caucus; we are the grassroots supporters.”
The writing is obviously not yet on the wall as far as a second Trump term goes. But if the first 100 days — especially the second half of that time period — are anything to go by — the Donald will have some serious explaining to do in about three years time.
Weiner Rising in White House: Ally of Disgraced Ex-Congressman Hired
Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump enlisted the services of Risa Heller, a New York City public relations figure known for her work with Democrats including former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Gov. David Paterson (D-NY), when they came to Washington to take up their official posts in the Trump White House, according to a report in Buzzfeed.
The revelation came amid reports that a New York City set with a history of friendly ties to the Democratic party is gaining traction in President Donald Trump’s White House, much to the chagrin of conservative commentators. Members of the Kushner family itself donated large sums to Democratic causes until a few years ago, and Jared has reportedly been accused of being “a Democrat” by more nationalist and populist factions within the White House. Another oft-cited member of this NYC-clique is the Director of Trump’s National Economic Council, registered Democrat and former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn.
Asked by Buzzfeed about her choice, Ivanka responded in a statement, “Risa is incredibly talented, driven and passionate. She is a formidable advocate and respected by all as a trustworthy and honest broker of facts.”
Her husband Jared echoed her sentiments. “She’s the best fighter in the business, is universally respected, and most importantly has always told me what she really thinks, good or bad,” he said.
Heller began her career in Schumer’s press office before expanding her horizons in and beyond the political field. She served as communications director for David Paterson as the New York governor, who replaced prostitute-patronizing Gov. Eliot Spitzer and found himself in crises of his own. In addition to allegations of witness tampering by his appointees, Heller managed Paterson’s image through the emergence of the sex and drug scandals that ultimately sunk his reelection hopes.
Anthony Weiner, perpetrator of perhaps politics’ all-time most embarrassing litany of faux-pas, also sought Heller’s help as he tried to weather the media storm of the century that surrounded his multiple ‘sexting’ scandals. Now banished from the political realm, Weiner sung Heller’s praises.
“If I had taken her advice at critical junctures even 5% of the time, I would have been infinitely better off,” he told Buzzfeed. “This may sound ironic coming from me, but she never advocates for not telling the truth. I repeatedly didn’t take that kind of advice where I should have.” For her own part, Buzzfeed reports Heller continued to argue Weiner was a “good person” even as the worst details of his improprieties were emblazoned on front pages around the world.
For her own part, Buzzfeed reports Heller continued to argue Weiner was a “good person” even as the worst details of his improprieties were emblazoned on front pages around the world.
Jared and Ivanka, until recently, haunted the same New York circles in which these Democratic politicians are hounded by the city’s notorious tabloid press. Kushner himself has used Ms. Heller, sending her to handle the New York Times earlier this year when that paper raised questions about a deal of his in China. Anthony Weiner, for one, seemed to think she was a natural pick to help Jared and his wife in DC. “It doesn’t surprise me that people like the Kushners would gravitate toward her,” he told Buzzfeed.
At the beginning of April, paparazzi supplied the Daily Mail with photos of Ms. Heller heading into Jared and Ivanka’s new home in Washington, DC. Some think Heller is an odd choice to bring so close to Ivanka’s father’s Republican administration. At least one of her own former Democrat colleagues in New York expressed horror at the move. “I think there’s a big difference between representing business interest and essentially helping to advance an agenda that is completely antithetical to everything that Democrats stand for,” the Democratic operative told Buzzfeed.
Heller was reportedly dismayed to be the subject of a Buzzfeed article, but offered a defense of her decision to work for the Kushners: “I fight tirelessly for my clients, period. That’s what I am in business to do. I am proud of what I do and who I do it for.”
Heller is not the first publicity figure the Kushners have brought in from sources Republicans traditionally might not consider. Jared hired PR-exec Josh Raffel right out of Hollywood earlier this month.