What are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump doing in the White House, exactly, and why should we care?
Sadly enough, political analysts, reporters, government workers, and other members of the American public agree: our president is wildly unpredictable. Some might even argue that he’s downright crazy.
How lucky, then, that we’ve got such level-headed people at Trump’s side. If it weren’t for Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, we could be in an even darker place.
Or, is that entirely correct? In the latest episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver raised some very salient and unnerving points about this popular political couple. Do they really have our best interests at heart? Can they truly change the President’s mind? What’s their deal, anyway?
Ivanka Trump’s Vague Alliances
Oliver first called into question Ivanka’s influence as a moderate advisor to her father, Donald Trump. Rather, it may be more useful to consider her current role as a particularly canny bit of casting. For nearly her whole public life, Ivanka has been presented as the calm, collected member of the Trump family.
Many commentators have framed Ivanka as a kind of moderate to progressive force for good in the White House. They imagine her standing up to her father whenever he steps out of line. However, there’s no real evidence that she actually disagrees with Trump. Indeed, she’s been able to cannily avoid any sort of actual statements or examples, and therefore any real sort of responsibility.
Rather, Ivanka has seemingly trained from a young age to be both vague and likeable. And it seems as if people have bought the whole image without questioning, despite direct evidence to the contrary from Ivanka herself. To illustrate, Oliver quoted a passage from her 2009 book, The Trump Card:
"Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. This doesn’t mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don’t go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage."
It’s pretty damning stuff, but has managed to get Ivanka a seat in the White House, and her husband a plethora of roles in the presidential administration. And yet “we may all be thinking that Ivanka may be doing a lot more than she really is,” said Oliver. The truth is, we know little about her or her true motivations.
Jared Kushner’s Role
And what of her husband, investor, developer, and senior presidential advisor Jared Kushner? He’s been tasked with so many different responsibilities that it defies basic tenets of time and physics.
Kushner is reportedly involved in reforming the criminal justice system, combating the opioid epidemic, finding solutions for peace in the Middle East, and acting as primary contact person for two dozen countries. Oliver even pointed out Kushner’s presence at several high-level White House meetings. Seriously, does he have a time machine somewhere?
Kushner is often described as quiet, which some people interpret as a sign of intelligence. Yet, there’s not much direct evidence either way. “We’ve had to rely on secondhand evidence of his brilliance” said Oliver. After all, Ivanka and her father have very nice things to say about him.
And, yes, Kusher went to Harvard – but “the Unabomber went to Harvard,” said Oliver. “Ted Cruz went to Harvard.” Kusher, by the way, reportedly earned test scores and grade point averages that would not have admitted him to the prestigious Ivy League university by their own merits. However, conveniently enough, father Charles Kushner happened to pledge 2.5 million to the school shortly before Jared was admitted there. Funny, that.
And still, we don’t know much about Kushner. In fact, Oliver argued that few of us even know what his voice sounds like. To illustrate his point, Oliver offered up a clip in which Gilbert Gottfried lent his nasal vocals to a Kushner news appearance.
For all of this, Oliver claimed that he wasn’t seeking to personally insult either Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner. “I don’t know enough about them to eviscerate them,” he said. “Just as you don’t know enough about them to justify putting any real hopes in them.”