Edited by: Fern Sidman
It appears that the long-awaited memoir of his White House years that was penned by former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner has not only hit the shelves on Tuesday but has packed an enormous wallop in terms of a panoply of reviews it garnered by all virtually all major media outlets.
Published by an imprint of Harper Collins, the 512-page tome, “Breaking History: A White House Memoir,” is clearly a compelling and riveting page turner, replete with scintillating information and tons of juicy gossip for those who just adore hearing the dirt on Washington big wigs and their coteries.
Kushner was often at the center of the Trump administration’s policies — whether brokering the normalization of relationships between Israel and United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco — known as the Abraham Accords — or playing a key role in a criminal justice bill passed by Congress in 2018. He has also been the subject of numerous controversies, whether for his financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest or for the administration’s widely criticized handling of Covid-19.
Not surprising for anyone familiar with the liberal mainstream media’s obsession with trashing anything “Trump” or Trump related, the memoir received a broadside from the literary critic and book reviewer at the New York Times.
Critic Dwight Garner said in his review that Kushner’s memoir is “soulless” and a “peculiarly selective” examination of the Trump administration, ignoring “the chaos, the alienation of allies, the breaking of laws and norms, the flirtations with dictators, the comprehensive loss of America’s moral leadership, and so on.”
Garner said the book repeatedly uses political cliches like “Even in a starkly divided country, there are always opportunities to build bridges,” and has the tone of a college admissions essay, according to the report on TheHill.com.
Other reviews have been critical of what they perceive to be Kushner exercising his bragging rights and offering a detailed list of his career accomplishments to the point where it sounds as if one is reading a puffed-up resume. Others have extended plaudits to Kushner for his forthright candor and his ability to express the feeling at the precise moment of the events that he writes about.
Garner writes that Kushner’s close rapport with Trump was the reason he prevailed in influencing his father-in-law over other White House staff members, like former adviser Stephen Bannon and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as was reported by the Hill.
Kushner writes that he learned he likely had thyroid cancer in October 2019 during high-level trade talks with China, but was private about his diagnosis. He said that he was informed of his cancer diagnosis while aboard Air Force One.
“As this high-wire act of trade talks with the Chinese progressed, I had to confront an unexpected and frightening personal problem,” Kushner writes.
“On the morning that I traveled to Texas to attend the opening of a Louis Vuitton factory, White House physician Sean Conley pulled me into the medical cabin on Air Force One. Your test results came back from Walter Reed. It looks like you have cancer. We need to schedule a surgery right away, Kushner writes.
Kushner writes that he preferred to keep his diagnosis a secret from all but a few close intimates. Among them were his wife Ivanka, his friend and fellow crafter of the Abraham Accords, Avi Berkowitz, his aide Cassidy Luna and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
He adds: “With the exception of Ivanka, Avi, Cassidy, and Mulvaney, I didn’t tell anyone at the White House — including the president.”
He did not make clear why he did not inform the president, but prior to a surgery that had been scheduled, former President Trump ultimately discovered the distressing news about Kushner’s condition.
“The day before the surgery, Trump called me into the Oval Office and motioned for his team to close the door. ‘Are you nervous about the surgery?’ he asked,” Kushner writes, noting that he asked then-President Trump “how” he knew, as was reported by Fox News.
“‘I’m the president,’” Trump said, according to Kushner. Fox News reported that Kushner wrote of his conversation with the president. The president said to him, “I know everything. I understand that you want to keep these things quiet. I like to keep things like this to myself as well. You’ll be just fine. Don’t worry about anything with work. We have everything covered here.”
The operation was indeed successful and a “substantial” part of his thyroid was removed by physicians during the scheduled operation.
“The biopsy results arrived a few days later, revealing that the nodule indeed was cancerous. Thank God we caught it early,” Kushner writes, according to the Fox News report.
Kushner also released a few bombshells about the coronavirus and the role that embattled ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo played. While Cuomo’s now infamous March 25, 2020 order to nursing homes to allow Covid patients in to their facilities despite the known risks to life that the virus would have some elderly and infirm people is not news, what is news is that the Post reported that Kushner wrote that Cuomo said the coronavirus “could burn through nursing homes “like fire through dry grass” 10 days before he issued the March 2020 executive order which ultimately spelled disaster for his political career.
Kushner wrote that “Cuomo specifically mentioned possible nursing home horrors in a 30-minute phone call as Kushner helped lead the early White House pandemic response as infections mounted in New York. In the March 15 call, Cuomo allegedly told Kushner, “For nursing homes, this could be like fire through dry grass.”
Cuomo’s subsequent March 25 order said nursing homes weren’t allowed to turn away patients “solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,” which the families of victims said was a death sentence for vulnerable elderly residents, as was reported by the Post.
In his book, however, Kushner did not slam Cuomo completely and said that the two enjoyed a good working relationship as Kushner assisted in leading the White House coronavirus response. Also, the Post reported that Kushner had a soft spot for the former New York Governor because Cuomo was supportive of Jared’s father, Charles in the aftermath of his arrest in 2004. The Post reported that Kushner said Cuomo told his billionaire father, “I’ve had highs and lows as well. You’ll be back.”
As for Cuomo’s March 25th nursing home executive order, it remained in effect until May 10 and was intended to ease hospital crowding.
Kushner also claims in his new book that Israel’s then-prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, responded enthusiastically when Trump revealed his decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as the capital of Israel.
He asserted that Trump was very disappointed after hearing Netanyahu’s reaction during a phone call.
He claimed that as a result, Trump nearly reversed his decision to move the embassy.
Upon hearing Trump’s decision, Netanyahu said, “If you choose to do that, I will support you,” according to Kushner.
Trump then repeated his intention to move the embassy and recognize Jerusalem, but “Bibi responded with less-than-expected enthusiasm,” Kushner wrote.
At that point, he continued, “Trump began to second-guess his decision and wondered aloud why he was taking this risk if the Israeli prime minister didn’t think it was that important.”
According to Kushner, Trump then told Netanyahu “Bibi, I think you are the problem,” to which Netanyahu responded that he was in fact “part of the solution.”
Kushner wrote that Trump appeared to be “frustrated” by the exchange with Netanyahu but could not provide an explanation as to why Netanyahu reacted so coolly to the big news.
Netanyahu’s staff provided the following response to Kushner’s claims:
“Contrary to what was claimed, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who asked President Trump to move the embassy several times, expressed great appreciation for this decision.
“President Trump told Prime Minister Netanyahu, before making the decision: ‘I have people who say that this step is dangerous for the United States, what do you think?’
“Netanyahu replied to the president that he sees no real danger and that there is no reason not to move the embassy.
“It is doubtful that if Prime Minister Netanyahu had responded to the president otherwise, the transfer of the embassy would have been carried out.”
Kushner also revealed in his memoir how he broke up with Ivanka Trump while they were dating because she wasn’t Jewish, then reunited with the help of the Murdoch family and singer-songwriters Bono and Billy Joel, as was reported by The Times of Israel.
The report indicated that the memoir describes the now married couple’s courtship, and how the soon-to-be president ruined his surprise marriage proposal.
The two met in 2007 for a business lunch at the behest of Trump who wanted Ivanka to see if Jared was interested in purchasing any of the family’s properties, according to the TOI report.
Kushner writes in his memoir, “We spoke about business, but the conversation soon turned to NASCAR, New Jersey diners and other unlikely interests that we had in common.” He said that months later, “when I realized that I was falling in love with Ivanka, I grew concerned about our different religions. As hard and painful as it was, I broke up with her.” Kushner is an observant modern Orthodox Jew.
“Ivanka told me it was the worst decision of my life. She was right,” he wrote, as was reported by TOI.
He also wrote that months after the breakup, he met Ivanka, to his surprise on a cruise of the Mediterranean. He was invited by mutual friend, Wendi Murdoch, who at the time was married to media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch.