The Jared Firing Line

After long-standing reports that Steven Bannon will go to war against the “globalists” who remain in the White House, the WSJ has a report sourced to “people familiar with the matter” that there was a plan to oust Jared Kusher in June.

Some of President Donald Trump’s lawyers earlier this summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down as senior White House adviser because of possible legal complications related to a probe of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election

[snip]

After some members of the legal team aired their concerns to Mr. Trump in June, including in at least one meeting in the White House, press aides to the legal team began to prepare for the possibility that Mr. Kushner would step down, drafting a statement explaining his departure, said people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump wasn’t persuaded that Mr. Kushner needed to leave. One person said Mr. Trump’s view was that Mr. Kushner hadn’t done anything wrong and that there was no need for him to step down.

The story includes a non-denial denial from Marc Kasowitz, who left with legal spox, Mark Corallo in July.

Mr. Kasowitz in a statement said: “I never discussed with other lawyers for the President that Jared Kushner should step down from his position at the White House, I never recommended to the President that Mr. Kushner should step down from that position and I am not aware that any other lawyers for the President made any such recommendation either.”

Kasowitz’ formulation “lawyers for the President” does not exclude “White House lawyers” at all.

Plus, if White House counsel who are not Trump’s personal lawyers recommended the President oust Kushner, it might explain one of the (many) reasons Robert Mueller might want to talk with Don McGahn and his deputy James Burnham.

Mueller has notified the White House he will probably seek to question White House counsel Don McGahn and one of his deputies, James Burnham. Mueller’s office has also told the White House that investigators may want to interview Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

And if, as WSJ reported, a statement explaining Kushner’s departure got drafted, then Raffel would be part of that.

But if I’m right, then I suspect the reasons for ousting Kushner go further than the ones described by the WSJ (which include his failure to identify the Russians he spoke with, his meetings with Russians (including the June 9 meeting at Trump Tower), and the possibility his continued presence in the White House would expose others employees and Trump to risk.

After all, just yesterday, in an interview where he was grilled about a divide between him and other Administration officials — including Ivanka and Jared — Steve Bannon went on 60 Minutes, coyly confirming that he’s furious about the Jim Comey firing, while pretending he hasn’t been leaking just that for weeks.

Jared was a key advisor in the decision to fire Comey.

At the Oval Office meeting on Monday, May 8, Trump described his draft termination letter to top aides who wandered in and out of the room, including then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House Counsel Donald McGahn and senior adviser Hope Hicks. Pence arrived late, after the meeting had begun. They were also joined by Miller and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, both of whom had been with Trump over the weekend in Bedminster. Kushner supported the president’s decision.

Had he been ousted in July, the White House could have blamed it all on him, and let him take the fall (and Trump could even have pardoned him for his other Russian sins). But Trump decided his son-in-law had done nothing wrong, with the firing advice, or with all the meetings that Trump also didn’t fault Mike Flynn for, so Trump ignored the advice of a number of his lawyers.

Update: Ty Cobb all but names Bannon to the WaPo.

In a statement Monday night, White House lawyer Ty Cobb blamed the disclosure of the internal debate on former White House staffers seeking to tarnish Kushner, who Cobb described as “among the President’s most trusted, competent, selfless and intelligent advisers.”

“Those whose agendas were and remain focused on sabotaging him and his family for misguided personal reasons are no longer around,” said Cobb, who was brought aboard in July to specialize in the Russia inquiry. “All clandestine efforts to undermine him never gained traction.”

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

30 replies
  1. Mitchell says:

    As Bannon said, Firing Comey was a huge mistake. That Donald couldn’t see it is just another sign of his unqualification for POTUS. And that the firing was just a matter of trusting one advisor over another and nothing more is (apparently) belied by his (apparent) boasting of and joy in the firing expressed to the Russian ambassador.

  2. kathleen says:

    When we hear McCain, Schumer, Pelosi etc etc say this bs “No one is above the law” Who the hell believes this?

    • harpie says:

      Yeah, that’s one of my pet peeves. We are constantly being subjected to these mindless broken-record [yes, I’m that old] tropes, which short-circuit any actual thinking. It’s mind-numbing. One of the most infuriating:

      We are better than this!

      IF this were true, there would be no need to actually say it. 
       

  3. Willis Warren says:

    Bannon is a weird dude.  He’s obviously clueless about reality, but very shrewd at manipulating right wing nuts into action.  Of course, that’s like shooting fish in a barrel these days.

    I thought it was interesting when he said the Russia investigation is a “waste of time.”  He didn’t say everyone was innocent, but that it was a waste of time.  Kind of makes me wonder if he was in on it.  My guess is he wasn’t and he was mad about it.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    Jared has proven to be dimwitted and incompetent enough to be fired all on his own.  With that said, I do not see any attempt to force Jared out will succeed until Caesar Disgustus no longer has any choice, based upon his circling the wagons around family, and that Ivanka would be sad.

    OT but possibly tied in:  Fun with Felix in Moscow.  This is the kind of thing that Mueller is digging into to put the story line together, which will become the basis for criminal action and/or impeachment.  Nothing I’ve seen would tell me that Jared wouldn’t get a cut of this if he wanted one.  Even though the wheels of justice grind slowly, they do grind exceedingly fine in Mueller’s shop.  The GOP is well aware of the consequences (understand the party leadership is also compromised here by the use of their leaks) and so they are resorting to increasingly desperate low-hope measures to stop them.  For example, using Devin Nunes for any kind of so-called fact-finding demand is a sign of stupidity since it is well documented how partisan and stupid he is.  However, Nunes might get a chat with Mueller’s team for his latest antics.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/09/how-donald-trump-lied-to-conceal-his-moscow-business-partner/

    • Peterr says:

      If Trump fired Jared, he would be admitting to have made not one but multiple major mistakes.

      Putting Jared in a senior WH position at all would be #3, giving him tasks beyond his skill-set like peace negotiations in the middle east would be #2, and #1 would be admitting that the guy he thought was good enough for his precious daughter to marry isn’t quite that good after all.

      That last one would sting the most, but the cumulative effect of publicly admitting to have screwed up would be brutal.

  5. orionATL says:

    the food fight at the beginning of the whitehouse tour – every president i have observed starts out this way:

    you win. you say to yourself “oh god. what do i do now, this is a monstrous job”. then you gather your family, and your friends, and the political allies you really, really trust and assign them jobs in the wh. after a few months to a year things begin to fall apart. it becomes clear that your family, your friends, and your not so trustworthy close political allies don’t know shit about the inticacies of the jobs assigned them. if you’re lucky you run across a john kelly or a denis mcdonough who have tons of the relevant experience being staffers to power and leading such staffs.

    is trump intemperate enough to chase kelly off? of course. trump is the product of an impoverished childhood and young adulthood in which he never had to learn the social skills most of us need to survive. that’s why he is an incompetent leader – which is not inconsistent with being a very capable con man and panderer. but if trump can keep his childish temper in semi-control, kelly may make him appear a better president than he is to a media mob always waiting to award superlatives to any president. appearances – that’s what that counts in u. s. politics.

    as for jared, who cares? he will go sooner than later, but he won’t be fired, maybe leave to spend more time with his family :)

  6. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Equifax probably knew they were hacked 6 months ago. The same hack maybe also has gotten inside Experian. TransUnion unknown, but possible also.

    The problem with the bug is that it is not trivial to fix, because even if you update apache web server, you may also have to fix application code.

    Apache Struts. Problem known for 6 months now.

    But it looks like instead of patching the software, they tried to lobby for immunity.

    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/03/in-the-wild-exploits-ramp-up-against-high-impact-sites-using-apache-struts/

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/equifax-lobbied-for-easier-regulation-before-data-breach-1505169330

  7. lefty665 says:

    Perhaps Trump had a belly full of Bibi’s demands and is tired of Jared’s unthinking Israel first agitating. Could that have added to the list of things adding up to telling Jared to go away and to get Ivanka out of D.C. before she gets hurt?

  8. Rugger9 says:

    OT but I think it’s rather big, especially considering that Michael Flynn is refusing an invitation to chat with the Senate under oath.  Mueller will also want to look at this as well, so subpoenas are likely coming along.

    IMHO, Michael Flynn is a traitor.  Any service attaboys he was able to accumulate over the years are more than canceled out by his “oh bleep” selling out of the USA in (at least) the last 4 years or so.  It could be worse than we know of.  At the battlefield of Saratoga, there is a monument with a boot on it and no inscription.  It is for the injury to the leg of Benedict Arnold (who was the tactical genius at Saratoga, not Gates), but Arnold’s subsequent treason (to hand over West Point) and subsequent service as a British office rendered his memory worthless for true Americans.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/13/1698165/-Michael-Flynn-failed-to-disclose-Russia-Saudi-nuke-deal-Democrats-want-Mueller-to-investigate#read-more

    • lefty665 says:

      Treason is a very specific and circumscribed charge. You might want to be cautious before throwing it around, especially at an officer who dedicated his career to serving our country. Joe McCarthy made many ugly and defamatory charges. That has “rendered his memory worthless for true Americans.”  A lesson we might all learn is to be careful who we choose to emulate.

      I am glad Flynn is out of government, but that is a far cry from accusing him of treason.

      • bmaz says:

        Good rule of thumb: Ask if we are at war with the other country being aided? If no, then treason likely does not apply. There are no facts that I see putting Flynn anywhere near treason.

        We all had a pretty in depth discussion on tis subject in comments a while back, can’t remember where.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Russia was and remains an adversary and since Flynn spent much of his career during the Cold War he is well aware of the Warsaw Pact mentality in full view with Putin. The same Vlad under sanctions for territorial aggrandizement at the expense of the Ukraine.

        The Saudis made up 15 out of 19 hijackers on 9/11, and have been given the total kid glove treatment by GOP administrations including Shrub’s and now Caesar’s.

        There’s plenty more, but understand we already have two clear-cut cases of giving aid and comfort to an enemy with at least two witnesses for each.  Therefore as a former USN officer I stand by my comment about Flynn.  While the US Constitutional definition of treason is limited, that certainly hasn’t stopped the Rethugs from tossing it around on Faux News every night about Obama and HRC for crimes far less serious than tampering with our elections.

        Lefty, if your message is that we have to give Flynn a pass because of his service I need to remind you of why I made the observation about Benedict Arnold’s boot: Flynn violated his oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and so he walked away on his own to turn his back on America for cash.  I see no need to reward that behavior.

        • bmaz says:

          We had this discussion once before. It is absolute fucking bullshit to say Russia or KSA are enemies within the construct of treason law. Please don’t make people here stupid with this continued bunk.

        • lefty665 says:

          And your comments are why I referred to Joe McCarthy. We are fortunate you are no longer an active duty officer. Stop watching Faux News every night, it’s rotting your brain.

          • orionATL says:

            were you ever in the military, lefty, officer or enlisted?

            and do us a favor, lefty. specify what news media you are calling “faux news” by name.

          • Rugger9 says:

            Joseph McCarthy as a model applies better to Nunes, Sessions and/or Trump than to me.  He made a series of spurious attacks with faked information (“I have here in my hand…”) about Communists everywhere (Roy Cohn, who mentored Trump, was his sidekick) in the State Department, and other parts of the US Government until he attacked the Army (Ike’s turf, look up “Have you no decency, sir?”) and the whole house of cards came down especially when Edward R. Murrow played clips of McCarthy contradicting himself without comment.  Tricky Dick was also a very close associate and Red-baiter.  Please do better with your history, you clearly do not know whereof you speak.  The same goes for your opinion about whether I’d still be a good officer.

            No, I’m not a FoxBot either.  Nice BS ad hominem attack instead of facts.

            So, after you brush off the Cheetos, Lefty, also understand that that I consider Flynn as a traitor, not that he is guilty of Constitutional treason.  Note that the case can be made, however.  While I frequently agree with bmaz he is not on target here.  Of course we do not have a declared war going, not even in Afghanistan for the last sixteen years (not since WWII, Korea was a “police action” officially), but I would like bmaz and Lefty to explain how the KSA and Russia are our friends when they oppose us around the world and supply arms and money for people like ISIS (the KSA) that are trying to kill us.

      • orionATL says:

        lefty sez:

        “… especially at an officer who dedicated his career to serving our country…”

        so you would insist on special consideration for military officers?

        how patriotic of you, lefty!

        and we know you’re a special kind of patriot, lefty, because you take every opportunity to defend trump’s cozying up to russia (all in the name of peace, of course).

        • lefty665 says:

          I generally respect people who have spent their careers in public service. It comes from being on the left, valuing governance and the people who do it. I even believe Rugger9 likely made a contribution somewhere in his career.

          I also value working with other nations in the world in areas where our interests coincide over blind antagonism as with the Neocon and hysterical Dem anti Russian rage currently so in vogue.

          Seems like things are getting out of hand for you again orion. Might be a good idea to check in with your therapist and get your meds adjusted.

           

           

          • orionATL says:

            you have dodged every question i have asked you, lefty. every single one. why?

            were you ever in the military?

            what media are you calling “faux news”?

            what about the inaccuracies supposedly in flynn’s snowden report?

            care to answer? or do we have to read yet more of your pious maundering dodges?

  9. Bay State Librul says:

    Lefty

    Like Trump, I believe that Flynn is psychologically damaged. Not sure what triggered his mental change. He is a fascinating character, but like King Lear, he lost his way. Tragic yes.

    • orionATL says:

      a vengeful personality and the thirst for revenge is the answer.

      flynn was by fired by obama as head of defense intelligence agency. his problem there was said to be he wanted his views stamped on intelligence reports. his report on snowden especially problematical.

    • lefty665 says:

      BSL and orion, at DIA Flynn correctly called BS on reports greatly exaggerating our “successes” in the middle east, especially Afghanistan, that cooked analysts actual reporting of modest, at best, progress. That did not sit well in the Obama administration and cost him his job. For that we owe him a debt of gratitude for his courage, honesty and willingness to buck the prevailing system.

      Some of his other beliefs and subsequent actions have not been as admirable. It had never occurred to me, but in some ways a tragic character indeed.  He is certainly hung out to twist in the wind these days.

      • orionATL says:

        you’re putting lipstick on a pig, lefty.

        as i understand it, the beef in the defense dept with flynn was that his management of the dia was distrous and he was insisting reports present his views.

        nice you are manufacturing a hero’s role for flynn now that he is suspected of aiding trump. such a role is entirely unwarranted, but doing so is entirely consistent with your covert support for the trump presidency’s love fest with russia.

        and about that snowden report, lefty?

  10. Bay State Librul says:

    “When you begin a journey of revenge, start by digging two graves: one for your enemy, and one for yourself.”
    ― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

    Lefty,

    Not sure why you try to defend the indefensible…. Flynn and son are bad apples.

  11. TGuerrant says:

    Missing so far from the discussion here seems to be Kushner’s #1 qualification for being a senior adviser to this president and for being fire-proof:

    Donald Trump is emotionally dependent on Kushner, just as he is on Ivanka.  They soothe the braying narcissist, teach others how to soothe him, and can be trusted not to get spiteful when he’s abusive.  The children parent the parent.

    When they seem to be “smart” to Trump, he’s not threatened by it because as “Daddy” he’s the reason they’re smart.  They are “of him” as much as with him – their values meld with his, their priorities put his psychological comfort first no matter what.

    Moreover, by assigning the thinking part of the president’s duties to Kushner, Trump can focus on what really matters: slights, revenge, status, ratings, and ice cream.

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