New book describes perils of crossing a White House power couple
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — When Mark Corallo, then the spokesman for President Donald Trump’s legal team, declined an offer to take over as the White House communications director in the summer of 2017, Jared Kushner reportedly refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.
“Don’t you want to serve your country?” Kushner, according to a new book, asked Corallo, an Army veteran and longtime Washington public relations executive.
“Young man,” Corallo reportedly replied, “my three years at the butt end of an M16 checked that box.”
The exchange is described by Vicky Ward in her upcoming book Kushner, Inc., an excerpt of which was provided to ABC News ahead of its expected March 19 publication.
Soon after, amid an onslaught of negative press coverage calling his integrity into question, Corallo reportedly received a call from a reporter who informed him that a Kushner aide had been dispatched to “[thrash him] all over town.”
“Dude,” the reporter said, “what did you do to Jared and Ivanka?”
The anecdote is just one example of the many ways Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter who also serves as a senior adviser, allegedly exert their power and privilege in the White House, according to Ward. The book depicts the couple — dubbed “Javanka” by Ward — as both omnipresent and powerful, forcing their will upon White House staffers and lashing out at enemies real and perceived when rebuked.
“They talk to you as if they grew up in an ivory tower, which they did — but they have no idea how normal people perceive, understand, intuit,” someone close to the legal team told Ward, adding that they seemed like “the type of people who, if you don’t pretty much indicate quickly that you’re happy to shove your head up their ass, you’re immediately a threat.”
Corallo, who ultimately left his role on the president’s legal team after only three months on the job, reportedly said Jared and Ivanka would frequently intrude on meetings between the president and his lawyers, raising complex legal concerns about attorney-client privilege.
“We’d just be sitting there awkwardly, like, Okay, well, we can’t really talk until she leaves,” Corallo told Ward, adding, “They were reckless.”
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denounced the book a week before its publication date, suggesting certain anecdotes as relayed by Ward are inaccurate and characterizing her book as a work of “fiction.”
“It’s sad, but not surprising,” Sanders said, “the media would spend time promoting a book based on shady anonymous sources and false information instead of all the incredible work Jared and Ivanka are doing for the country.”
The book also attempts to sheds new light on the scramble within the White House to explain the genesis of a controversial meeting at Trump Tower between high ranking members of the Trump campaign and an ensemble of Russians in June of 2016, which has since emerged as an area of intense interest for investigators seeking to determine whether the Trump campaign worked in concert with agents of the Russian government to impact the election.
As details of the gathering first came to light in news reports over a year later, a disjointed media response strategy exposed rifts between competing factions within the White House, pitting the president’s recently re-shaped legal team against his inner circle, including his daughter and her husband, Ward writes.
At issue were a set of emails contradicting a statement Donald Trump Jr. gave to the New York Times, in which he described his contact with the Russians as “a short, introductory meeting” during which he, Kushner, and Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”
Those emails, which have since been made public, make clear that Trump Jr. attended the meeting after being promised dirt on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and, when told what to expect, replied, “If it’s what you say I love it.”
According to the book, as the debate raged on over the Fourth of July weekend about how to address Trump Jr.’s statement to The Times, Kushner’s attorney was working behind the scenes to abdicate Kushner of wrongdoing by throwing Trump Jr. in front of the growing scandal.
“According to a member of the legal team, Kushner’s new lawyer, Abbe Lowell, told Trump’s lawyers that before emails regarding that Trump Tower meeting were provided to Congress,” Ward wrote in her book, “he wanted to leak them to the media, and he wanted Don Jr. to do it, presumably as part of a strategy to associate the meeting with Don Jr. rather than Kushner. (Lowell denied this.)”
A spokesperson for attorney Abbe Lowell, who represents Kushner, slammed Ward’s book as “fiction rather than any serious attempt to get the facts.”
“Every point that Ms. Ward mentioned in what she called her ‘fact checking’ stage was entirely false,” Peter Mirijanian, a spokesperson for Lowell, told ABC News on Tuesday. “Correcting everything wrong would take too long and be pointless.”
Corallo, according to the book, appeared to blame the president’s attachment to “Javanka” for the mess. “All to protect Jared and Ivanka,” he told Ward. “Because if [Kushner] has to leave, then [Ivanka] has to leave.”
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