Amid Donald Trump’s spasmodic summer, one member of his campaign (and family) has received a growing amount of positive—or at least not explicitly negative—press: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Today, however, Esquire has published a long and excellent profile with lots of good dirt, all about who is this smiling fellow who through his narrow greed and ambition has sold out his faith for a suicide ride on the Trump train.
Here’s the best goss in the piece:
Jared’s ex-con father is secretly still running the family business.
In August 2004, Charles Kushner (Jared’s father) pleaded guilty to 18 felony counts of tax fraud, election violations, and witness tampering: He’d set his sister’s husband up with a sex worker and filmed their interactions in an effort to blackmail him out of cooperating with a federal investigation.
After Charles went away, Jared took over the family business, supposedly displaying a preternatural talent for negotiating the cut-throat and heavily-capitalized New York City real estate industry. According to Esquire, however, Charles was running things behind the scenes.
Under Jared’s leadership, the Kushner Companies has embarked on an impressive streak of acquisitions in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. This summer the firm participated in a $340 million deal for the former headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, one of the most coveted parcels of waterfront real estate in Brooklyn. But no one at the Tuesday meeting, and no one who deals with the company from the outside, is allowed to forget who built the firm. When I called one of the Kushners’ underwriters to ask about Jared’s business prowess, he seemed startled. “None of it’s been him,” he said. “It’s been his dad.”
Incidentally, Jared visited his father every weekend when he was in prison.
Jared and his brother see themselves as young Kennedys.
Flattering profiles love to compare Jared to a young John F. Kennedy—a comparison Jared has apparently embraced.
And yet for all that Jared has helped Trump, there is a sense among Jared’s friends and business associates that he sees the gold-plated vision of a Trump White House as the ultimate step in a carefully plotted ascent to redemption, one that began when his father’s scandal tarnished the family name. In this respect, it seems more than usually significant that both Kushner brothers have photographs of John F. Kennedy prominently displayed in their offices. Just as Kennedy’s father was forced to yield his ambitions to his sons’ generation after uttering controversial remarks during World War II, so too did the scandal that sent Charles Kushner to prison open the door for his sons—and especially for Jared—to launch their charm offensive on society at a very early age.
Jared’s family didn’t want him to marry Ivanka, even after she converted to Judaism.
The Kushners are practicing Modern Orthodox Jews; the Trumps are…whatever.
Ivanka passed the tests, and by 2009 Charles was ready to formally accept her into the Kushner family. At the couple’s wedding, which was held at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, he stood up and, according to multiple sources, gave a toast that drew tears from the assembled guests. A person who attended the wedding recalls the central sentiments of the speech: “Look, everyone thinks she’s great, but being Jewish is just unbelievably important to us, and she’s not Jewish. It’s a problem for me, a genuine problem. Then I watched and got to see she’s in love with my son and it wasn’t what I thought in the beginning. I feel right about it.”
Trump stood up to speak after Charles, and he floundered miserably. According to one guest, he “gave the most pathetic, lame, embarrassing speech I’ve heard in a long time.”
Jared doesn’t know his American political history.
Lately Jared’s liking of the Donald has morphed into something more substantial. Over the last year, Jared seems to have settled into a sort of hero worship, as though he wanted to become his father-in-law. His peers in the real estate industry talk about the stash of red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps that Jared keeps in his office, on the fifteenth floor of 666 Fifth Avenue. As he hands out the hats, he says of Trump’s slogan, “It came right out of his head!”
The slogan was first used by Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Jared knows about Real America.
Charles Kushner got Jared into Harvard by making a huge donation and hitting up his pals in the Senate to put int recommendations. Jared graduated in 2003 and then got a joint J.D./M.B.A. from New York University.
When his Jewish friends ask him—and they do—whether, given the history of the persecution of his own religion, Jared really endorses Trump’s anti-Muslim sentiments, he does not miss a beat justifying his father-in-law. “You don’t understand what America is,” he says, “or what American people think.”