tv After Words Vicky Ward Kushner Inc. CSPAN April 7, 2019 9:03pm-10:03pm EDT
for coming. i'm going to sign some books and otherwise were regardless have a great night and thank you very much. next on booktv "after words" investigative journalist vicki reports on the career of jared and ivanka trump interviewed by elizabeth spires. "after words" is a weekly program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest works. >> i'm here with vicky ward, the author of kushner inc.. it's great to have you here today and i'm very curious to know your thoughts as -- to start off with what made you
want to write this book? >> i think you know my beat has always been the intersection of money and power and the culture of. it is about the book of the new york real estate and i had no donald trump over ten years. i have known jared kushner socially a little bit. i actually met him when he came to new york. what i was curious to see having understood the kind of
unregulated world is whether they would take us with them to washington or whether washington would change then and i think the beginning of the a restoration there would be this, but i think that i think i saw y early on that perhaps it hadn't really gone to washington for public service but for self-service in the real estate business now running the white house and you saw that first week of the transition when ivanka, the whole family gathers for the 60 minute interviews and then have a fashion line put out the next day that people could die for over $10,000 although she apologized as someone said
to me later. basically for 18 months she wouldn't go. i think i saw signs with jerry is right before the inauguration and "the new york times" both the story that he had the first week of the transition meeting with a later chinese insurance company and now in jail for life but this is a meeting to try to
solve this financial albatross that he had hanging around his shoulders when he went into the transition and into the government. i was in -- within the same few weeks he's also helping in the transition capacity these are the kind of conflicts that we've never seen before and it was this idea of a sort of theme they are not who we hope they've been coming out with a theme. they are people who have grown up trained to think that rules are for other people and above all, the fact that he goes into the government with an enormous financial problem, that he and his father and i think on another level this is a story to
children they are controlled by their fathers and their father's financial need. so, we know there are many threats we think of in a way removed from new jersey to new york to washington and then to the rest of the world. so all of these threats are why i wrote it. >> you heard people say they are going to go to washington and moderate trump, what were your initial expectations? >> i was skeptical because i didn't know it, but i was part of a three-point plan.
when he went to jail back in 2005 they came up with a three-point plan to rehabilitate the family name. the first part of that was to buy a trophy building in new york and the second was the media outlets which would not only have control of the press but introduce him to people i guess i was one of the people working for "vanity fair." and the third point was to have him date someone permanent. so we now have that story. i had met him when he was fresh to new york and he seemed perfectly charming.
i was working for "esquire" magazine and we were brainstorming how we've revamped the magazine and i came up with the idea of jared kushner and his younger brother venture capitalists as a plausible cover story. we had no idea that there would be anything particularly negative. what was interesting is the further right age for esquire readers. at that point it is the most interesting hook up because of my background and a rolodex it
took me less than a day to make a cause on his reputation and in his own space. of the reportinif the reportingy surprised me because it showed he controlled a calm in his public image and they work so hard on their public image, but underneath that i heard stories of a fury that sounded very similar to his father's temper which is notorious he could be extraordinarily vindictive and very inappropriate. there was a story i tol told him thathemthat piece basically howe interfered in the real estate dealings in the huge advertising conglomerate at the same time he
was friends with martine and that has always been his strength and he had addressed he didn't think he was using it in the most economic way. however, the real estate team had already made presentations to their own board of what they wanted to do in certain spaces so they went ahead and did a deathedeal they thought made ecc sense. he read about it and was so furious that he demanded to come in and in front of the whole group of people he said you should just decide. so people were just amazed who
is this person. this isn't a story that the effortheyever assumed would seet of day. he's not rupert murdoch so there's this sort of belittling of people who can't fight back and they are no match for his money and that was striking. the other story that i think was really striking and some of you were involved in shows the vindictiveness. he was a fellow real estate they
had known each other and his wife had gone to the wedding. when they were undergoing the restructuring around 2010, 2011, they basically asked for a write-down on the loan and said politely i can't do that because i have a fiduciary responsibility to my investors. they start screaming and it was wildly inappropriate because i think you are forgetting who you
are talking to. what was then fascinating was the reaction to come to you, the beat reporter, the new york observer and even after he wrote a memo that researching the could find nothing, he writes a memo that says there's nothing here and he then telephoned him back and said you are extremely concerned that this is not public service. at one point i think i was reached out to that i wasn't interested because i have never heard of him. i wasn't going to write a piece about someone i had never heard of. but obviously he then took the
top 100 in his commercial observers and what was so interesting in the summer of 2016 he is still minded and that level of grudge holding is different from the persona that was presented. >> my experience of that incident is how obsessed he was with it. so then after i thought it had gone away and they told me after the fact >> it is really remarkable. it's very telling when you then have to look at what he did to chris christie in the transition and throwing it into absolute
chaos with the work that he had been doing for months and kind of unchecked and it takes him 24 hours to rip up the transition. what i hope my book does these shows you the psychology behind that. >> one of the things you talk about and that is if you want to understand it's important to understand them in the context of their fathers let's back up a bit how would you describe him and his influence? >> guest: he is a complicated character. the first thing you have to remember is what the parents went through in the holocaust.
get over and then to new jersey. joseph went into buildings. so they became part of the group of holocaust survivors because they transformed the state and it's sort of an agricultural history to much more suburban enclaves and he should take enormous credit for building the jewish community of livingston. she's extraordinarily generous
particularly to jewish causes. the flipside of that is he would hire for his businesses a lot of the people that worked in the synagogue. they felt owned by him. so there is a leverage of the price that comes with all of that. charlie was the youngest son and he fought very hard to be the sort of anointed heir. he wanted to be the one to shine in his eyes. he was the one who took joe and the construction business and turned it into this development.
he was lucky. he used a lot of leveraging thet the market was with him, but he is the one that was so centralized the whole operation and he did, when he died he left it's very common in the real estate industry you divide your assets so before his siblings had different llc is and as he got richer, his ambitions grew and he clearly had political ambition. he invited benjamin netanyahu to speak and each visit cost $100,000.
but he started implement the families explained this mindset to me that it stems back to what happened in the holocaust because if his parents had done what they told he would be dead so now we are seeing a mindset that he is not going to wait to see if he gets into harvard we are going to make sure he gets into harvard so a check is going to get sent. he needed to start wielding power and he needed to pay he wasn't going to wait to ask permission for his siblings to do that. he just took the money. and what happened was his
brother and sisters didn't like it but the civil dispute became public when he was actually getting information and filed an age discrimination suit that was public and since then in new jersey the chief prosecutor u.s. attorney was chris christie saw an opportunity because he was known to be the chief very close to jim, the incoming governor and i think chris christie knew if he investigated charles that would lead to jim and it did
because charles kushner had gone with him to israel in 2000 and he had been there when he met the young israeli that would have a clandestine affair and charlie kushner he was the one who would put this guy on his payroll to be his bodyguard, but while they were looking at all these avenues can he's also gathering information about his personal life and it wasn't
where he had positioned himself at the pinnacle of this very strict orthodox jewish communi community. so, chris christie had an awful lot of leverage over him because he had information that he could add and he would have found it tremendously embarrassing and that is why he kind of snapped and orchestrates in awful stain and his sister is cooperating with the fed. he then sends it to his sister and i think once you understand
the leverage this also begins in a way to make more sense and then of course the sting, the irony is that send them to jail because what he did to his brother-in-law there was no way the jury was going to say this is a really good guy. he wasn't going to risk going to trial to have his public life exposed which is why he very uncharacteristically pled guilty so quickly so this is in their
but you have to understand why in his mind and in the kushner children's minds he didn't do anything wrong and that they don't think he should have gone to jail. they view the system as being the obstacle. chris christie and everything he represented, they were above one that were wrong and that is why i think you really have to understand. you have someone coming in who has a problem with the rule of law and the way that it was in this country.
>> host: that he had done nothing wrong with the media in general but i always got a different sense. how much does the influence have to deal with that? >> guest: there is no question he is the child that was groomed by his father to be his heir and successor and the pressure intensifies and takes a whole new dimension he wanted it to be but it's now about avenging him and it's about rehabilitating the name and writing this wrong
that he sees. i don't think the other children. the burden in the same way. even more recently, going against his parents wishes and marrying the person they wanted to marry. >> host: ivanka also has a relationship with her father that shaped who he is. how do you think they are similar and different? >> guest: i think they are amazingly similar.
it's surprising how controlled ivanka actually is by her father. a lot of people in new york real estate due for a long time how controlled he was by his father. everyone in the room knew it wasn't a lawyer it was charles kushner. he was a much better real estate developer. they knew all of the decision-making was being made by charles kushner. ivanka is different because she has stunned the myth that she is the adults in the room and rolling her eyes when he says
he said calm down, they sell shoes. very public put down. >> host: they've been good at controlling their own image. they cycle through people and for a lack of a better description they have a personal brand that has kind of become a business conglomerate and should have stayed in new york when they built their businesses and she could have continued to build her personal brand. what do you think they were going to accomplish that would be better than this? >> guest: we already knew anyone in the world of real estate new he had to sign a lender or investor.
the clock was ticking and $1.4 billion was due. it is a huge opportunity to quote the chinese and all these people that wouldn't have been interested in this building. nobody is all a partner and said quite publicly the building would be worth more if it is just dirt. you have to remember that they neeneed, desperately needed forn investment.
this was a needle that they were looking to thread. there is no question he goes into this government and there he is meeting with the chinese and during the transition as we know he hasn't put any of the meetings down the security clearance so that is the beginning of that narrative. once her father became president, all sorts of department stores dropped it so she also needed foreign money
and trademarks. he didn't actually sell the business that she would put herself on these calls her father is having with leaders and it wasn't that she and necessarily said anything it was just her presence on them and everyone noticed over brand had loads of trademarks. no matter what she said, i think
we would all agree the expansion of the child care tax credit she very much champion, yes that was a good thing but it is completely undercut that at the same time she had her fashion brand and it was completely appalling. >> host: it is a small win for her -- >> guest: what about her personal branding. >> host: and when you look at what they said they were going to do and accomplish in many cases they've undermined the issues that they set about to pick and one of the things he took on its peace in the middle
could appropriate that it's been on the communications back and forth. you also have to remember that in the background there is the own adviser when they signed the nuclear accord, basically netanyahu was the chief priority and now the chief priority was all about iraq and it was netanyahu who thought it would be a great idea if america softened its relationship with
russia. why? because he believed that in return, putin would help get them out of syria and this isn't something that any of the intelligence that i spoke to agreed with and it is very much something that sticks and the other thing that happened is the unusual alliance where they started with the united arab emirates so into all of this comes kushner whose grown-up.
never have done this without a green light from the white house. they knew the president the green light had come from kushner and it gets worse because he makes another visit to the region. they were able to withstand the blockade so they were not able to overthrow the regime and get the money that way so it appeared they stay up all night and again all protocols are broken. no one in the state department or social security has any idea what they necessarily talked about but days later, they have six of the seven and they have
to sign over some of their wealth to him. he said you notice the only branch he didn't ground out don't you think that statistically it is unlikely they are the only ones who are not corrupt. he didn't want to know but the interesting sort of end of the story comes in 2018 when they come to washington and he asks her more money to help rebuild and syria if he drags his feet a bit anof it and then they arrivn time and they have lots of money in this blockade. very interesting the u.s. withdrawals its support for the
blockade and a canadian company whose largest shareholder is the investment authority and announced it's in talks to bail out to sixth avenue. the way they do the deal if you are anyone in real estate in new york it stinks. in the end this company has a 99 year lease and the entire lease is paid upfront. you don't have to know much about real estate or be good at math to see that doesn't make any sense. publicly they said we didn't
talk. nobody really believed that. the reporting since then tells me they definitely felt pressured to do that feel. it's really dangerous stuff, it is doing diplomacy in the dark cutting out all the agencies he doesn't understand that because he doesn't come from a world like that they were interviewing
candidates for the cabinet. the calendar is marked secret, and gary said you realize everything you do from now on where are you going you have to take a lawyer. you have to take somebody. you can't just go off and freelance like this. he doesn't come from a world where he thinks these kind of things are important. >> host: this relationship is something that gives even the most diehard republicans pause. when you see the dictatorial regimes it seems like it is a combination of naïveté and
straight up an iowa som. you mentioned several times they think the rules don't apply to them. how do their colleagues function in that environment? >> guest: it causes distress understandably. you've got people that run into that white house and put in long hours and who actually made quite a lot of sacrifices to do this and then there they are surrounded by two people who are undercut them. one of the reasons that didn't squawk when it closed and that was an outrage.
the american people should be able to see who goes in and out of the white house. it's whthat's why we have visits logs. but he knew the orders had closed. he was having all of these networking meetings with people he shouldn't have. one of the people he was making breakfast then the ceo of goldman sachs was an investor and he had cofounded with his brother and not only had he not divested from it added on the disclosure there's no way he should have been meeting. he's not aware of all those details but he's so busy trying to create some sort of order but
it wasn't worth it to him to try to fight this backlog. >> host: i thought it was significant that you ended with the murder because that might be the popular. is that surprising to you? >> it's still going on. right now if you and i are having this conversation they need to know what he talks about you have these secret meetings
and communications it is a rough region you see this moral expediency that his father had setting up my brother-in-law with a prostitute, why is the law involved in that and here again you see the sun not worried about his methodology, and i think it is really really troubling. >> host: your overall portrait of them to behave in washington has been characterized by their arrogance and incompetence on the issues and unwillingness to learn. do you think they view themselves that way and believe
that there tenure so far has been successful? >> guest: what is clear is they don't view themselves or the world the way other people do. somebody mentioned that the reality in that certainly they have. i think now that the democrats have control of the house and they have come to power and there is all this focus on security clearances and it's become clear she boldly went on television and flat out lied about the fact there was nothing unusual in the way she got her security. i think that they would have to notice that the messaging is
perhaps falling on deaf ears. i say in the book that ivanka has presidential aspirations but you also wonder. >> host: the source said her own brothers wasn't -- -- >> guest: that's interesting because where is she political politically? she hasn't passed herself as a republican, but at this point the democrats are so repulsed by the ethics issue and that the entitlement. i think we are at a crossroads. this is how i end the book. so far they are decided. look at the body count. it's extremely high and they are
still there. will they be held to account and will donald trump -- this is the other interesting dynamic at some point will they come to an obstacle for him but he just left interest to let them go, he goes back and forth on this over when they misused e-mails because that is when he'd gone off to hillary clinton with and that caused him to say john kelly could just get rid of them but then of course he pulled the trigger on his own daughter and seems to forget about it but he is very un- excited about all the focus that there is on the company's finances because that leads to an expiration of his
finances so there is a scenario in which he says this is going to be bad for me politically. or not. >> host: you cover powerful people and you know many o wouly of the people that were social in new york and peopl the peoplt worked with them in real estate. what happens if they come back to new york how are people going to react to them? >> guest: it is a really interesting question there are a lot of people that wouldn't have anything to do with them. i suspect, i know there are people sort of like them,
slightly ignorant, blind and careless they don't really have a grasp on the extraordinary dangers they pose to us and i hope that group will embrace them. >> postcodes interesting at the beginning, people would contrast them with who got trump elected in the first place and it was described by believing that the government was bad because it imposed unnecessary restraints on the need to make money and it would create a metaphor for what
happened when they went to washington. do you think the tenure has been worth it to them? >> guest: it depends who's framework you are assessing that by. or do do i think they have any short-term money it is clear that they have. iit's really a question that those poses. >> host: another thing you highlight is how they alienated a lot of people in you specifically talked about michael cohen dear instrumental making sure they didn't get that and can you think of other examples where either because of
the need for control what they are self entitled for these decisions. >> guest: what is interesting to me as a reporter is how people are completely differentt ideologies would come together and agree so for example they both will have agreed to alienate michael cohen was stupid. in some ways it bites me in the reporting of this book i wasn't expecting both sides of the political aisle would actually come together and agree so much
about these two. that was very surprising. >> host: you mentioned when they are gone from the white house i will tell you the real story. >> guest: there are people we haven't had publicly from yet, but we know for example john kelly thought they needed to write a memo about the security clearances and you know that the very fact they did that means that they really felt something was amiss. the event talked publicly.
it's all in the details. >> host: is there any one person you didn't talk to for the book or wasn't accessible to you? >> guest: yes, but there's no chance that i've got. i felt i did cover a lot of ground precisely because between the two of them and the they rey model in everything there was an enormous amount of territory for china, russia, israel. it was a lot to get my arms