Kushner, who served as senior presidential adviser, writes in “Breaking History: A White House Memoir” that he and his wife viewed Kelly as “consistently ambiguous” but “only once did Kelly completely slip his mask off.”
“One day he had just walked out of a controversial meeting in the Oval Office,” Kushner writes. “Ivanka was walking down the main corridor in the west wing as she passed him. Unaware of his heated state of mind, she said, “Hello, Chief.” Kelly pushed her out of the way and stormed past. She wasn’t hurt, and didn’t make a big deal about the altercation, but in his anger Kelly had shown his true character.”
In his account, Kushner writes that about an hour later, Kelly visited Ivanka’s second-floor West Wing office to offer what he describes as “a gentle apology, which she accepted.”
In an email responding to Kushner’s portrayal of the incident, Kelly wrote, “I don’t remember anything like you describe.”
“It’s inconceivable that I would EVER push a woman. Unimaginable. Never happens,” Kelly wrote. “Would never do something like that on purpose. Nor can I remember ever apologizing to her for something I didn’t do. I’d remember that.”
However, Kushner writes that Julie Radford, Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, had met with Trump and heard Kelly issue an apology. “It was the first and only time Ivanka’s staff saw Kelly visit their corner on the second floor of the West Wing,” he writes.
Through a spokesperson, Trump said her husband’s description of the incident is accurate. Radford also said she saw Kelly come to Ivanka’s office and heard him apologize.
Donald Trump himself has a well-deserved reputation for bullying and dishonesty, and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has recorded more than 30,000 false or misleading statements made by him during his four years in office. Many of Trump’s staffers were also known for offering competing versions of the same event, often making it difficult to uncover the truth of what happened.
The Washington Post obtained excerpts from Kushner’s memoir, which will be published on August 23.
Kelly initially joined the Trump administration as Secretary of Homeland Security, but became Trump’s chief of staff halfway through his first year in office after Trump replaced Reince Priebus, its first chief of staff.
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine General, viewed his mandate as bringing order and military discipline to Trump’s freewheeling and chaotic West Wing. But some in Trump’s orbit — including Kushner and Ivanka Trump — were soon annoyed by Kelly’s strict procedures, including requiring the president’s family to warn Kelly about their work-related interactions with Trump.
Kelly also became frustrated with the couple who, in his opinion, seemed determined to circumvent his authority and back down to the president.
In his memoir, Kushner portrays Kelly as personally dismissive of Ivanka, publicly showering her “with compliments on her face that she knew were insincere.”
“Then the four-star general would call her staff to his office and scold and intimidate them about trivial procedural issues often caused by his rigid system,” Kushner writes. “He often referred to her initiatives like paid family leave and the child tax credit as ‘Ivanka’s pet projects’. ”
Jared recounts another incident in Beijing in 2017 — a version initially reported by Axios — in which Kelly got into an argument with Chinese officials after a Chinese security official tried to prevent Trump’s military aide from joining the president during a meeting with the president. “nuclear football”, the leather briefcase that contains the nuclear codes and that accompanies the president everywhere.
The Chinese attempt to meddle in nuclear football, Kushner writes, “was an alarming diplomatic breach.”
But he also describes Kelly as overly aggressive and uses the moment to assert his authority over the Chinese.
“Kelly glimpsed the scuffle and ran to the doorway, grabbed the Chinese officer by the neck and pinned him to the wall,” Kushner writes. “You are rude,” he yelled. ‘The Chinese are rude! This is terrible! That’s not how you treat your guests!’ A protocol officer rushed in, realizing the security officer’s mistake and apologizing profusely. But Kelly stormed out, boycotted the meeting, and left a seat next to the president noticeably empty.”
Kushner said Kelly then joined the rest of the White House staff and “refreshed us with the story of what had just unfolded,” before denying an attempt by the head of Chinese protocol to personally apologize for the move. error refused.
In an email, Kelly, like Kushner, said the incident happened when Chinese officials tried to interfere with the diplomatic pouch, knowing “they have no right to inspect it or send it through a magnetometer. “
“The situation was already confrontational when I heard the commotion from a distance, moved to the venue and reminded them in no uncertain terms that they would not be allowed access,” Kelly wrote. “The Chinese officials on the ground chose to continue the confrontational approach until they were ‘convinced’ that we were right. That’s when the confrontation ended.”
Kelly added: “A few minutes later, a Chinese (as per protocol) official came to our waiting area and apologized to me. Problem over. After that, nothing more.”
But as Kushner said, seeing Kelly and the head of Chinese protocol walking together after the incident, “chummy as it can be,” finally got some insight into Trump’s chief of staff.
“That’s when I finally understood John Kelly,” Kushner writes. “For him, everything was a game of dominance and control. He made people feel small and unimportant to establish the relationship from a position of power. Then, with his position firmly established, he would charm and disarm, leaving people relieved that they were on his good side, but afraid of what would happen if they crossed him.”