Jared Kushner Wasn't Just Involved in Trump's Push to Overturn 2020. He Helped Start It

June 10, 2022

Jared Kushner knew his father-in-law and boss Donald Trump had lost to Joe Biden. But that didn’t stop Kushner from trying to help his wife’s dad cling to power.

Nowadays, as Kushner seeks investments for his firm and attempts to launder his image, the former senior White House aide would like everyone in the public and the press to believe he had nothing to do with the January 6 insurrection or Team Trump’s most scandalous efforts to overthrow the American democratic order. However, there is one problem: Kushner absolutely was intimately involved with Trump’s scheme to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. It’s just that he bailed on the mission early to save himself.

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According to four people familiar with the matter, in the week following Election Day in early November of that year, Kushner took charge in overseeing the development of plans to keep Trump in office — Kushner just wasn’t publicly ostentatious about it in the way Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others were. During that first week, Kushner repeatedly met with Trump and other high-ranking aides to the then-president to discuss and map out possible strategies for multi-pronged legal battles and a scorched-earth messaging war against the victorious Biden campaign, the knowledgeable sources tell Rolling Stone.

Despite all the strong evidence to the contrary, Kushner told Trump that there could still be a path for the then-president in a number of critical states, including Arizona, that had already been called for Biden. In those early days of the scheme to overturn the election, two of the sources say, Kushner also personally encouraged Trump to fight on and ignore people who were saying it was over, and to stick to the burgeoning plans and court challenges spearheaded by the 2020 campaign attorneys and senior staff. Kushner was, of course, in the room with these fellow Trump lieutenants when the plans were first being crafted. (Axios reported this at the time as the trusted son-in-law urging Trump to explore and pursue “legal remedies” to the election results.)

Earlier this week, The New York Times published an article titled, “How Jared Kushner Washed His Hands of Donald Trump Before Jan. 6” — renewing questions of just how complicit Kushner was in his father-in-law’s months-long attempted coup d’état.

“Jared was directly involved,” one of these sources, a former senior Trump aide who worked on the effort to nullify the election outcome, said. “There was a [brief] window…when it seemed like he was positioning himself to be the Jim Baker of this fight … It didn’t last long. He backed away from it, but he was there and got his hands dirty like everyone else did.” (Baker, a towering figure in the Republican Party, helmed the legal team for George W. Bush during the chaotic Florida recount that ultimately handed Bush the presidency.)

“Jared helped create what then morphed into the Rudy clown show,” the source added.

Rolling Stone’s calls and messages to Kushner were not returned on Thursday. But five days after Election Day 2020, and the day after major outlets had already called the election for Biden, Trump adviser Jason Miller told The Daily Beast: “Jared has been more hardcore in fighting back on this than anybody.”

Regardless of the depths of Kushner’s participation at that time, the four sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss behind-the-scenes details, broadly agree that by the second or third week of Trump’s anti-democratic crusade, Kushner’s involvement had mostly, if not wholly, evaporated. Throughout the entirety of the Trump presidency, Kushner had a reputation — one that was a reliable, recurring source of much derision and inside-humor within the upper ranks of the administration — for suddenly vanishing from a major policy or political initiative when the going got tough or the public-relations baggage swelled too large. Trump’s former White House chief of staff John Kelly, for one, bitterly viewed Kushner and his wife and fellow senior adviser Ivanka Trump as annoying dilettantes.

And as the Giuliani-led antics and conspiracy-theory-mongering grew so outrageous and embarrassing — including a mid-November 2020 press conference during which Giuliani’s hair dye appeared to melt off his head, and MAGA lawyer Sidney Powell went as far as to implicate the long-dead Hugo Chavez in the fictitious 2020 “FRAUD” conspiracy — to some of the self-aware denizens of Trumpland, Kushner saw his cue to quietly exit. He, of course, continued to appear at least superficially supportive of his father-in-law’s mission, and refused to speak out about the doomed effort. Kushner, despite some pleading by his friends for him to do something to talk Trump down from his disastrous and eventually violent attempt to stay in power, didn’t even lift a finger to try to play the allegedly moderating role in the West Wing that he for years falsely cultivated a reputation for assuming.

In a New York Times piece published Wednesday, the paper reports, “While the president spent the hours and days after the polls closed complaining about imagined fraud in battleground states and plotting a strategy to hold on to power, his daughter and son-in-law were already washing their hands of the Trump presidency.” Certain corridors of Trumpworld didn’t take kindly to the piece.

“If the plan had worked, and if Pence had done what the [former] president wanted him to do, Jared would be jumping up and down … or calling reporters to take credit for being the man behind it all [and] the guy who made it all happen,” says a former senior Trump administration official who was present for the tumultuous presidential transition. “Come on. Spare me.”

As for U.S. lawmakers and staffers investigating the deadly Capitol riot that resulted from Trump’s efforts, the January 6th committee has actively sought information related to both Jared and Ivanka since at least January, and requested that the National Archives turn over all White House documents and communications from the day of the attack relating to the couple, among other Trump aides. Kushner met with the committee for a lengthy interview in late March, a conversation described by Democratic members of the panel as “helpful” and “useful” in subsequent media interviews. Ivanka appeared for an interview with the committee days later.

Indeed, the House panel investigating Trump and the Capitol assault hopes to use Kushner’s own words, and video of his interview with the committee, against his own dad-in-law. On Thursday night, during the primetime inaugural public hearing of the committee, the assembled lawmakers aired a previously unreleased clip of Kushner telling investigators that he felt the resignation threats during that time from then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone and others were merely “whining.” Not long after that video aired, The New York Times reported that “Mr. Kushner’s words enraged Mr. Cipollone’s former colleagues, many of whom traded messages as they complained to reporters and one another as the hearing went on that the former president’s son-in-law was ‘arrogant.’”

Since leaving office in January, Kushner has kept a low profile and launched a new investment firm, Affinity Partners, but the fund has once again landed him in the crosshairs of congressional investigators. In April, the House Oversight committee demanded documents from Kushner and his firm as part of what it said was an investigation into whether Kushner improperly secured a $2 billion dollar investment for the fund from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman based on his former role in government.

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