Yesterday morning, I flipped on the television, and to my surprise there was Jared Kushner on a stage being interviewed by reporter Brian Bennett of Time magazine. This was someone who has gone out of his way to not be seen or heard -- and now he's doing a live Q&A. I could only bear watching him for about four minutes, but it was long enough to make a few things very noticeable.
The first was that, after seeing the Mueller Report -- even redacted, but with those 14 blacked-out criminal referrals looming -- he must be terrified of getting indicted and of his father-in-law getting impeached and convicted. Someone who has made it his mission to be hidden does not just pop up on live TV to be questioned for the fun of it. You do that because you have something desperate to prove.
And then after that come the mind-numbing, head-exploding things he said.
What's gotten the most attention (understandably) is his comment that "I think the investigations and all the speculation that has happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on democracy than a couple Facebook ads."
First things first: if this is the argument that Jared Kushner, top adviser to Trump, then the White House is in more trouble than even they think. Because I'm utterly certain that even the most religious Trump supporters knows the Russian investigation was about far, far, far, far more than "a couple Facebook ads." They might think it's all a big nothing and a Deep State "Witch Hunt" (tm Trump), but even they know that that hunt wasn't trying to track down just "a couple Facebook ads." And trying to claim it was not only makes Kushner and the administration he's a top adviser for look idiotic, but worse it makes it pretty clear they are trying to hide a great deal outside of those couple of Facebook ads."
There were probably hundreds of Facebook ads, tens of thousand of Twitter postings, hacking into the Democratic National Committee computers, hacking into the computers of the Democratic presidential candidate's team, efforts to set up fake organizations, projects that set up fake campaign events, meeting with Trump campaign officials -- including Jared Kushner, as well as the president's son and the Trump campaign manager, attempts by Kushner to set up secret backchannel communications with Russians, infiltrating the NRA, and much, much, much more. Not just "a couple Facebook ads." And nine Trump officials have had guilty verdicts and there have been 36 other indictments -- so far, all as a result of the Mueller investigation, which overwhelmingly transcends "a couple Facebook ads." And as I said, even the most Kool-Aid besot Trumpian acolytes know that. And when your top adviser tries to convince you that the Titanic is only about a bad plumbing gasket, then the administration is sending up semaphore code that they are guilty as sin.
And beyond the knowing idiocy of the comment to the American public, imagine the signal that this sends to Russia coming from the top adviser to Trump. Basically the diplomatic equivalent of "Bring it on, boys, the door is wide open!"
But there was more than that from Kushner.
For instance, he was asked about his security clearance, and he brushed it off with some quick tap dancing that included the phrase about how "I've been vetted" a length and rambled on to some other gumfummery. Except when listening to this, you grasp instantly that while, yes, he was indeed vetted, the massive problem is that the result of that vetting is that he was not approved for a high level security clearance. And it was only because that was overruled that he got it. Which is the whole point of the scandal. A scandal, by the way, that is getting worse because Trump has told the official subpoenaed by the House to defy the subpoena. It's like mobster John Gotti trying to declare his total innocence by noting that charges against him were looked into by a federal court and a jury of his peers -- and leaving out that he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In addition, Kushner was asked about how one of his close friends is Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman who U.S. intelligence services say was responsible for the kidnapping, murder and torture of U.S. resident Jamal Kashoggi, and what did Kusher have to say about that. His response was that "I'm not going to dispute American intelligence services," but that he wouldn't comment on intelligence matters, and then quickly went into a filibuster of word salad. But here's the thing --
For starters, if you actually, truly are "not going to dispute American intelligence services," then you are accepting that bin Salman is guilty of kidnapping, torturing and murdering a U.S. resident, and there's no getting around that -- because that is what the American intelligence services found. And no amount of tap dancing or obfuscation get get past that reality. And beyond that...what on earth is this garbage about not commenting on intelligence matters???!! This wasn't a top secret intelligence report with code-level clearance. It was publicly released. Their findings were reported in the newspapers. There is absolutely NOTHING that stops Jared Kushner from commenting on the what the intelligence services found, other than you don't want to criticize the man who kidnapped, tortured and murdered a U.S. citizen, perhaps because he is able to help you out of your financial problems and because he can release a lot of information about you conspiring with him on any number of projects that could be reprehensible. Maybe that's not it -- but there aren't many other good reasons for not condemning a man who (okay, let's say it all together) kidnapped, tortured and murdered a U.S. resident.
And keep in mind that all this is only from four minutes watching. It was all I could take. And the man there on stage spewing it all was the top adviser to Trump. I don't have to imagine how bad the rest was. Not only were those four minutes bad enough, truly horrible, bordering on ghastly -- but the mere fact that Jared Kushner was there at all, desperate to plead his empty case, was the most damning evidence of all.
"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt."
-- Abraham Lincoln, Father of the Republican Party
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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