Of all the books written from inside the Trump White House, this is the first from a family member. In Jared Kushner's new book, Breaking History: A White House Memoir, the former senior advisor to the president talks about what made working for his father-in-law a challenge.
"He's very hard to advise because he has a very strong instinct himself and fields opinions from a lot of different people, which I think is a strength, not a weakness," Kushner told CBN News. "He's a very flexible thinker. He's pragmatic, but he's open to having his mind changed which is both good and bad. And I saw that frustrate people like [former White House Chief of Staff] General Kelly, who wanted him to just follow what he said. He was a very kind of black or white guy but with Trump, there's like 50 different shades of grey."
Not only were there lots of shades, but there was also plenty of leaking and backstabbing too. Kusher isn't shy about naming names, like Steve Bannon in particular.
"Power, I learned, makes people more of what they already are, and when they got to the White House, it went to certain people's heads," said Kushner. "I was very ill-prepared to deal with somebody who was so nefarious and the way they manipulated the media to try to attack and label you in different ways."
Kushner says he wants the book to give an accurate portrait of what was really going on behind the scenes. "For people who don't understand how Washington works, this book really tries to give you the inner workings of how Washington works and especially everyone followed the Trump administration so closely and had opinions, but this is telling you what was actually happening in the rooms."
Jared Kushner had an up-close view of it all. His secret service moniker was "Mechanic," appropriate for a Jack-of-all-trades, "Mr. Fix It" kind of guy. He held leading roles in Operation Warp Speed, major international trade deals, and the historic Mideast peace accords.
As an observant Jew, he had a unique perspective. "I can tell you that there were moments of significance where I think that I probably had a deeper understanding for the insecurities that Israel faces," he explained. "My grandparents survived the Holocaust and I write about their experience extensively in the book. I think that that's one of the notions that Israel faces, which is why they treat every issue like it's life or death."
Kushner definitely learned about dealing with those he felt were out to get him and the president. He talks about dealing with a media that Kushner says constantly got stories wrong about him, not to mention facing an entrenched bureaucracy fighting his father-in-law's agenda and policies.
"The power of the federal government is extraordinary, and when harnessed in a positive way can be incredibly impactful," he said. "The problem is when it's either squandered or used in a negative way which can happen based on the whims of who's ever in charge. When I think through 'Deep State,' I think it's more people in the bureaucracy who maybe are pushing their own agenda, as opposed to what the elected president's agenda is. And I do think President Trump understands it. One thing is he brought out the truth. The media exposed who they were. A lot of these people exposed who they were in trying to get him."
Of course, that leads us to today's headlines about the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago.
"I think that this is something that if you're going to raid the home of your leading political opponent, I think that's something that that has to have a very, very high standard," Kushner said. "I think the FBI already was operating at a deficit of trust, not with the rank-and-file field agents. I worked with some incredible agents on counterterrorism and a lot of other areas. But there were some pockets of corrosion in the leadership, and people just don't have full faith that's been cleaned up. And so, at this rate, it only further heightened people's fear."
Speaking of fear, Kushner faced some frightening moments. He reveals being momentarily gripped by fear when the magnitude of the COVID crisis hit but then found his stride.
And positive results began to come in, including long-awaited criminal justice reform, one of the many areas where he worked closely with the faith community. It was a relationship that surprised him at first. "Very unexpected," Kushner said. "As a Jew who was living in New York, I didn't have a lot of exposure to the Evangelical community. I first met Paula White on our trip up to Liberty University. I think that was the first day I met you, as well, with President Trump in 2015, and that opened my eyes to the Evangelical community. They became incredible friends, a lot of people with a lot of wisdom and a very positive outlook."
He says the media never had a positive outlook or gave his father-in-law a fair shake when it came to his accomplishments. "I think the accomplishments of the administration didn't happen by accident," Kushner said. "I wrote this book because I want people to understand how that occurred, even in such a hostile environment. The media doesn't want to acknowledge that during President Trump's time in office there were some incredible things that were accomplished, and they weren't easy to do."
Neither were the long days or pressure of those four years in the White House. It was a wild whirlwind in short. So would he serve again if Trump asked? Or asked differently: does it rise to the 'oy-gevalt' level? "It's pretty close," Kushner said with a smile. "If you read my book, you'll see it was a brutal experience in many ways, but again, the opportunity was tremendous. I'm very proud of everything we did, but now I'm really enjoying the opportunity to spend time with my kids and be in the private sector. I don't think people should be career government officials."
That is definitely not Jared Kushner. He's in a good place right now, battling thyroid cancer and coming out on the successful end of it. He's away from the swamp of Washington, D.C., and leading a life with his Jewish faith at the center of it. "I've always believed in God, and I think that it's something that you see in the story that I write," he said.
"I believe the hand of God is in it...I believe that God wants us to do the best we can with what He gives us, but you have to have faith that will happen. One lesson I've learned too is that, in my life, there's some times when I thought that I had setbacks that were bad, and I think that God gives us what we need in order to accomplish what He wants us to accomplish. You learn from all the things that occur that are in your preference, so my faith is important to me. I pray every morning and I try to teach the lessons of faith to my children."