Already dismissed by the White House as "fiction," Vicky Ward's Kushner, Inc. is a deeply unflattering and largely anonymous look at Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner

By Sam Gillette
March 25, 2019 08:36 AM
From left, center: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
Matthias Schrader/AP/REX/Shutterstock

A new book about First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner — both of whom serve as senior advisers to President Donald Trump — has already made headlines with claims that the president wanted the couple out of the White House and that Ivanka privately defended her dad after his incendiary response to the Charlottesville white nationalist rally.

But that’s not nearly all that is covered by Vicky Ward’s Kushner, Inc., which was released Tuesday.

Subtitled “Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump,” Ward’s book is a damning account of the couple and the Trump administration. Already dismissed by the White House as “fiction,” Ward said her book is based on some 220 interviews — most of them anonymous.

While much of what Ward’s book describes about Ivanka and Kusher has been reported in some form before, Ward hones in on Ivanka’s public image as her father’s confidante and mollifier.

Ward also claims that Kushner is just as “sinister” — and self-serving — as his father-in-law.

The White House dismisses such reporting as baseless.

“It’s sad, but not surprising, 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,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a previous statement to PEOPLE. “The author, on her own website, listed this book in the category of ‘fiction’ — until recently changing it. Her initial representation was accurate.”

Sanders and other administration officials did not respond to a request for comment on the specific details from Ward’s book as described in this story.

Here are the highlights from Kushner, Inc., the latest in an ever-longer list of unflattering looks from inside the White House.

From left: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
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Kushner as ‘Frenetic’ Schmoozer

Ward’s book accuses Kushner of meeting with Russian representatives and other foreign officials while conducting family business  — and suggests that, out of fear of having his “frenetic networking exposed,” Kushner may have played a part in the White House’s decision to refrain from disclosing its visitor logs in 2017.

“He’s not a pussycat,” Ward writes that a business associate of Kushner’s told her.

The associate described Kushner as “very pasty, well dressed, well put together, and always saying the right thing, doing the right thing,” according to Kushner, Inc. But, said the associate, “He’d be tough, too.”

In Ward’s detailing, Kushner is Machiavellian. She writes that his Trump-approved focus on foreign policy is driven not by the welfare of the country but his familial and business ties — money above all else.

Kushner is one of several top aides from either the Trump campaign or the White House who have fallen under scrutiny. Congressional Democrats are reportedly probing whether Kushner, Ivanka and others violated the Presidential Records Act by using non-official email and not forwarding those messages to their work accounts.

In April 2017, the New York Times reported that Kushner applied for national security clearance and omitted the fact that he’d met with the leader of a Russian bank and a Russian ambassador. (Kushner’s attorney said this was only in error.)

According to the Times, Kushner was ultimately granted a security clearance after the president intervened, despite objections from government officials. (A spokesman for Kushner’s attorney previously said his clearance “was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone.” The White House declined to comment.)

From left: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
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How Family Influences Ivanka and Kushner

Ward delves into Ivanka’s relationship with President Trump — revealing, she writes, a daughter who has fought to be the favorite since Trump’s divorce from Ivana Trump in 1992. (“Donald’s love is tied to performance,” a New York business source told PEOPLE in a cover story two years ago. “They love him fiercely, and they are desperate for approval.”)

Perhaps even more interesting, though, is Ward’s dissection of the Kushner family.

According to Kushner, Inc., family patriarch Charles continues to influence Jared. Founder of the family’s eponymous New Jersey real estate company, Charles previously served prison time for tax evasion and witness tampering after a convoluted scheme against his brother-in-law.

Following his release, Ward writes, the senior Kushner saw his eldest son as a means to a “grand rehabilitation plan.” After buying a 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan (a prominent acquisition that quickly turned into an enduring headache for the family and entangled them with foreign businessman) and scooping up the New York Observer, a much-loved but minor local newspaper, Jared was tasked with dating “someone prominent.” Enter Ivanka Trump.

In Kushner, Inc., Ward writes that on the night of President Trump’s inauguration, the Kushners were kissing — they were so happy. “The Kushners, it seemed, would finally get the recognition Charlie felt they had long deserved,” she writes.

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Ivanka Stays by Her Dad’s Side

Ivanka isn’t fazed when President Trump calls her “baby” or pats her on the bottom, Ward writes. Instead, the first daughter is happy to remain where she’s been since her time on her father’s reality series, The Apprentice — in a position of power at his side.

As senior adviser, Ivanka has presented herself as a moderating influence on the president and a champion inside the White House for economic policies related to women and families. But, according to Ward, Ivanka’s main goal is to accrue more influence with her father’s support.

Ward writes that Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and a noted media gadfly, said Trump hates “saying no” to Ivanka.

What Do Ivanka and Kushner Really Do All Day in the White House?

Together, Ivanka and Jared’s areas of responsibility in the White House can seem vast: She has been involved in various economic matters and family issues and, according to reports, unsuccessfully lobbied her father not to withdraw from the international Paris Agreement to fight climate change.

Jared, meanwhile, has been involved with major foreign policy issues — including the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians  — and with leading an office to “overhaul” the efficacy of the federal government.

In reality, however, Ward writes that the couple drive their colleagues crazy.

According to Kushner, Inc., a number of senior staffers told Ward that Jared “meddled in everything, which led to his unofficial title as ‘Secretary of Everything.’ ” After Jared announced that they were “making enormous progress with NAFTA, we are agreeing on everything,” Ward writes that two people who heard this comment “wondered if [Jared] knew that NAFTA was a multithousand-page agreement, and that renegotiating it would involve legal negotiations with U.S. trade representatives.”

Ivanka is no less agitating, according to Ward’s book. When she isn’t wandering into her dad’s office to talk or trying to fly on military planes, she is pitching ideas, some of which — like the expansion of a child tax credit — seem out of step with standard Republican priority.

“Some Ivanka ideas were considered so ‘crazy’ that her offices were nicknamed ‘HABI’ — the Home of All Bad Ideas,” Ward writes.

From left: President Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump
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From left: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

What Do Ivanka and Jared Really Believe — and What’s Next?

Though Ivanka and Jared have staunchly supported Trump during his campaign and throughout his administration, observers have doubted the former Manhattanites’ commitment to conservatism from the beginning.

“No one thought Jared or Ivanka believed in Trump’s populist platform,” Ward writes. A “prominent broker” told her that, “The two of them see this as a networking opportunity.”

Later in Kushner, Inc., Ward expands on this by delving into Ivanka’s possible ambitions to become president — a theory journalist Michael Wolff also explored in his 2018 book, Fire and Fury.

“Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job,” Wolff wrote last year. “Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”