During a meeting with the White House communications team, Jared Kushner reportedly demanded an aggressive defense of Donald Trump Jr. from President Donald Trump’s staff.
Despite Trump Jr. not working at the White House, Politco cites four White House officials and two outside advisers who revealed Kushner wants the full power of the government behind defending the president’s son.
Some communications aides and senior staffers, including press secretary Sean Spicer, all expressed doubts it was a good idea. They explained that it was probably a better idea to let outside attorneys handle the communications strategy instead of White House aides on government salaries.
Regardless of the use of government employees to defend a private citizen, staff is engaged in an ongoing struggle dealing with scandals while Trump blows up their communication strategy with a single tweet. Tuesday, after few comments from the White House after Trump Jr.’s email exchange, was tweeted, Kushner reportedly spoke with Spicer and Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. The two communication staffers pitched a long-term strategy but it was Kushner that wanted an all-out war, one official reported.
A Kushner confidant claimed that the Trump son-in-law was furious there wasn’t a stronger strategy from the White House staff. He wanted them to attack the chyrons on cable news shows, which are the words that appear on the lower third of the screen. In fact, Kushner wanted two staffers working full time on fixing the chyrons. He demanded they call reporters so their stories cold have responses from White House staff and get surrogates on television as fast as possible. He railed that no talking points were sent to conservatives on television, according to the source.
“Jared didn’t like the idea, he wanted people to get aggressive,” an outside adviser told about the meeting revealed. “Jared’s the guy who is rushing the front lines and other people are saying, ‘see, wait, hold, and let’s get a battle strategy.’”
Kushner also wanted Wall Street Journal and New York Times op-eds, the adviser said.
“And we said, ‘Wait, we have to talk through how that will play out. Who is going to say it, who is going to put their name on the op-ed and what baggage do they have?’” the adviser claimed.
When told that Trump Jr. should be handled by non-government employees, Kushner reportedly said that the story impacts the president and thus it is a White House issue that taxpayer-funded staffers should handle.
Kushner has been displeased by the work coming out of the communications team and according to two White House officials has called for a reorganization. He’s also directed some of his rage to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus because many staffers in the White House came from his Republican National Committee team.
“He’s been legitimately speaking about that for months, that’s why he got his own [PR] person,” a senior administration official said about Kushner’s Russia frustration. After the international trip where Kushner was forced to come home early due to news he was under investigation, he devised a different strategy. The official explained that Kushner wanted six different “buckets” for dealing with offense and defense.
Some officials have tried to distance themselves from the issue entirely as they don’t want to implicate themselves. Other White House staffers have refused to work on policies that have anything to do with Russia out of fear they’ll end up under the microscope.
“That’s the other problem is that some of these staffers can’t afford lawyers. You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, how is [deputy press secretary] Lindsay Walters going to pay for that? How could Spicer pay for that?” one outside adviser said.
Another outside advisor said that Spicer has privately been complaining about Kushner’s demands.
The White House disputes the story that Kushner complained to top officials.
“These conversations simply did not happen and Jared did not raise a single one of these points besides saying thank you to everyone for their continued hard work,” the White House said in a statement.