Vicky Ward on Why She Wrote About Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s Unprecedented White House Role


"I felt that it was my civic duty, the most important and urgent thing I could do for a country I’ve grown to love deeply and to which I owe so very much."

My new book, Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption—The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, is dedicated, not to a person, but to “my newly adopted country, the United States of America.” That may seem like just a rhetorical flourish—but it isn’t: After two years of intense reporting, my findings show that the threat that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump pose to the systems and protocols that have kept this great country safe and free, is both extraordinary and extraordinarily under-recognized.

That is why, after living here for 22 years, I decided it was imperative to become a U.S. citizen—and to report the book. I felt that it was my civic duty, the most important and urgent thing I could do for a country I’ve grown to love deeply and to which I owe so very much. I must play my part to rescue it from two entitled New York silver-spooners. I needed to report the systemic damage they’ve caused, and even more importantly, the why.

That is why my book delves into their pasts and the culture that shaped them into two people who consider rules, including the rule of law, as something that exists for other people. As I said on Sunday on ABC’s This Week to George Stephanopoulos: “Most people go into government for public service. They [Jared and Ivanka] have gone in for self-service.”

I glimpsed the dangers of “Javanka” during the Transition: I think like many of us, I was hoping for the best. Surely, no one wants an incoming President to fail. But when the Trumps gave their first TV interview to CBS’s 60 Minutes, it wasn’t Donald Trump who, back then, worried me. It was Ivanka. The fact that she wore a $10,000 bangle from her fashion line, on television and then hawked it to viewers the next day was appalling.

We have clear conflict of interest laws that say you cannot profit from a role in government. (The subsequent apology from Ivanka’s spokesperson was worthless, since to quote a former Senior White House official, “you cannot un-see the bangle,”—and Ivanka would not sell or close her company, at least for the next 18 months). Even as she said she was not going to seek an official role in the Trump Administration, I gathered from DC sources that she was making plans to do just that.

And then, before the Inauguration, it was reported Jared Kushner, self-appointed head of “foreign outreach” on the Transition, and therefore point-person for the Chinese government, had, during the Transition’s very first week, also met secretly with a Chinese insurance firm, Anbang, a potential savior for the Kushner family’s dire financial problems.

Kushner, who appears never to have thought too deeply about the meaning of the word “transparency” or its importance in government, didn’t mention his business dealings to any of his Transition colleagues. Unsurprisingly, as I report, when they learned of it, they were utterly appalled. As I say in the book, the stench of corruption was so overwhelming that in-coming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was terrified that, all by himself, Kushner would topple the US’s “maximum pressure” campaign on North Korea (a campaign which also requires maximum pressure on China). Gary Cohn, the incoming director of the National Economic Council, told Kushner that everything he did from now on would now look as if he’d come into government for one purpose—to enrich himself.

The story gets worse. Much worse. You’ll need to read the book for all the gory details, but do pay attention to the important issue of who closed the White House visitor logs—and why. Interestingly, it wasn’t President Trump—you can probably guess who it was.

Meanwhile, though I am certainly not a member of Trump’s base, when I see the caps saying “MAGA” I smile to myself because Kushner, Inc. is my small effort to really Make America Great Again. And, if I want anyone to read—well, flick through—this book, it’s Donald Trump himself. The President knows Jared and Ivanka are his greatest liability, particularly as the issue of how they got their security clearances is now under investigation by Congress.

The question is, can the man who prides himself on his appeal to “tough people,” find the courage to send his daughter and her husband home? If he needs any help with justification, I can point him to specific page numbers. Mr. President, sir, I am just a phone call away.

An investigative journalist, Vicky Ward is a contributing editor to Town & Country magazine and the author of three books, including The Liar’s Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World’s Toughest Tycoons.