Discover more from PREVAIL by Greg Olear
White House Slender Man: Because Jared Kushner's Early Crimes Went Unpunished, He Remained to Sabotage the Pandemic Response
If Boy Plunder had been indicted years ago, 210,000 Americans may still be alive. Instead, we prepare for the Second Wave of the novel coronavirus.
THE SECOND BEST MOMENT to remove Jared Kushner from the White House has been every single day since he got there. The best moment to remove Jared Kushner from the White House was before he ever set foot inside.
During the transition, the son-in-law and senior adviser of Donald John Trump omitted secret meetings with shady Russians on his SF-86 form, which is a crime punishable by five years in prison. Because nothing was done about this at the time, Boy Plunder survived to break the law again. His subsequent crimes became more audacious. And now, the United States is on the brink of the dreaded Second Wave of the pandemic—a pandemic that the blundering grifter was, insanely, tasked with stopping. Kushner should never have been in that position, because he should have been indicted for lying on his SF-86 four years ago.
In July of 2017— just six months into the Trump Administration, two months into the Mueller investigation, and 16 months (an eternity!) before the 2018 midterms—I ran a piece for The Weeklings with the lurid title: “Compromised: Is Jared Kushner Taking Orders from Vladimir Putin?” The Trump/Russia puzzle had yet to be fully assembled, but already, most of the pieces were visible: We knew about Kushner’s meeting with the Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, and his bat-shit request for a backchannel through the Russian embassy. We knew about his meeting with Russian spy-turned-banker-on-US-sanctions-list Sergei Gorkov. We knew about his lying on his SF-86 forms. We knew about the Trump Tower meeting he attended with Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, and various Kremlin assets. We knew about the $267 million loan his company received from Deutsche Bank that February. We knew that Deutsche Bank was dirty and possibly under investigation by Mueller. We even knew about the shady dealings the Trump campaign had engaged in, under Jared’s dutiful watch, with Cambridge Analytica.
It was all there, in plain sight. And yet the same crack journalists who broke all of those important stories failed to explain, or even try to explain, how they fit together. I don’t know if the individual reporters simply could not see the forest for the trees, or if they were discouraged from forest-gazing by the pro-Trump forces who signed their paychecks. With few exceptions, no one was providing a Big Picture. There was no equivalent piece in the mainstream press to what I wrote on my obscure little site—what I would later rework into a chapter of Dirty Rubles.
Instead, the media trust-washed Jared Kushner. Forbes produced a glowing cover story on “Boy Wonder.” Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, whose mother’s powerful PR firm counts Kushner and his family as clients—and which wields enormous influence in New York media circles—tried her damnedest to present “Javanka” as Camelot 2.0 (Ivanka Trump is supposedly obsessed with the Kennedys). The tabloids wouldn’t touch him, ostensibly because of his close relationship with AMI’s David Pecker. And the mainstream media more or less normalized the idea that this unelected mediocrity—the President’s son-in-law, son of a shitbag felon, whose massive debts to foreign banks and fishy relationships with foreign governments meant he could not get a proper security clearance—was somehow a Voice of Reason in the West Wing, rather than a key architect of the government’s transition from republic to mobbed-up oligarchy.
Back in 2017, we didn’t know much about Kushner the man. As I wrote at the time:
Kushner is notoriously private. Secretive, even. He’s had a Twitter account for eight years and has yet to post a single tweet. He rarely gives interviews. I’ve heard his voice exactly once. He’s basically the J.D. Salinger of the Trump Administration.
My piece asks, of the President’s decision to load up his son-in-law’s portfolio,
what if Trump had good reason to give him the heavy lifting? What if Jared Kushner is far and away the most competent person in the White House? What if he can actually get shit done? And what if he’s working for the Russians?
Most of the attention on “RussiaGate” has focused on Trump, and rightly so. Trump’s Russia ties are as long as the ones around his neck, and fishy as all get out. The President is so loud, and demands so much of the spotlight, that an unassuming eminence grise like Kushner can operate in the shadows with impunity. This is troubling, because we have no clue where his allegiances lie. For all we know, Jared Kushner is the greatest threat to national security since Julius & Ethel Rosenberg. Certainly he should be viewed as such until we know for sure.
Forty months on, we still don’t know.
A year and a half later, in December of 2018—almost two full years ago—I wrote a piece for Medium called “Boy Plunder: The Many Crimes of Jared Kushner,” in which I lay out, in detail, all the times the President’s son-in-law and senior advisor might have broken the law: during the campaign, the transition, and his first two years at the White House. I open the piece with a shot across the bow:
[I]t seems certain that Kushner is among the most corrupt and seditious figures ever to work in the White House. The son-in-law and top adviser to the president, the de facto U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and would-be Middle East peacemaker, is no patriot. To the contrary, Kushner has shown nothing but contempt for the United States: violating its laws, lying to its law enforcement officials, and (possibly) selling its state policy for his own personal enrichment.
In addition to the crimes I’d already outlined in 2017, Kushner had, by the end of 2018, (allegedly) colluded with David Pecker to attack Trump’s enemies in the tabloid press; lobbied for a Qatari blockade, (allegedly) when that country would not underwrite a loan for his family’s business; (allegedly) provided his bestie, MBS of Saudi Arabia, with classified intelligence; and almost certainly failed to warn Jamal Khashoggi of a threat on his life that Jared simply must have known about—a story I wrote about in depth at the time, but which seemed not to resonate with the broader American public.
I also call out the supine media for whitewashing him:
Despite criminal activity breathtaking in both scope and audacity, Kushner tends to receive preferential treatment from the media, like he’s royalty or a popular celebrity and not one of the most dangerous criminals in American history.
All in vain.
The point is not to blow my own horn, or pat myself on the back. I didn’t do any original reporting. I didn’t have any sources of my own. I was merely connecting dots that were easily visible to the naked eye—remarking that, whad’ya know, that particular constellation of stars looks a lot like a dipper. This was all obvious to anyone who chose to look. Why was no one looking? Why did—why does—Jared Kushner get a free pass?
Needless to say, nothing was done about any of this. The Republicans, who are in bed with Trump and his Russian overlords, gleefully looked the other way. Mueller failed to indict him. Even after the Democrats took the House, Kushner continued his activities unmolested—despite Congressman Ted Lieu being one of his earliest and most persistent critics. To my knowledge, none of the House committees has investigated Kushner’s role in the Khashoggi murder, or his shady ties to MBS more broadly. His name was not even mentioned in either of the two debates, although it could be argued that he’s been running the country as de facto Acting President for the last three-and-a-half years. The media and the government both treat Jared Kushner as if he has diplomatic plates and won’t ever pay his parking tickets so why bother.
Here’s why we should bother: When ambitious scofflaws like Jared Kushner are not thwarted, they get more and more brazen. How could it get worse than his disgraceful dealings with the odious MBS, or his possible trading of U.S. foreign policy for cash with Qatar? By greenlighting a pandemic response plan—or, rather, a non-plan—that amounted to a Blue State Genocide. Hundreds of thousands are dead because of Jared Kushner—who could have, and should have, been shut down four years ago, for lying on his SF-86 form.
Crime is like infectious disease—like the novel coronavirus. It infects our institutions, and if it is not stopped in time, it kills off democracy. The spread of covid-19 could have been arrested by Jared Kushner, but wasn’t. Jared Kushner could have been arrested by us, but wasn’t. Those two failures, compounded, have cost 210,000 lives, with no end in sight.
It will take many months and great sacrifice to rid ourselves of the virus. Kushner, on the other hand, could be shut down immediately, and with relative ease—and should be, before he gets his Slender Man hands on the nuclear football.
Photo credit: Cover of “Slender: The Arrival” videogame, from Bago Games.