When Donald Trump speaks to adoring crowds of red-faced fans in even redder hats, he likes to fire them up. That means railing against “fake news,” demonizing immigrants, and bullying whomever his target happens to be at the moment. What it typically does not include is touting the only real bipartisan victory he can claim after two and a half years in office: passage of (imperfect) criminal-justice-reform legislation.
Trump hardly mentions this accomplishment at his rallies. And when he does, it’s to mock Barack Obama for not getting it done first. Now, nine months after he signed the bill, Trump has soured on it, Politico reports. And he’s blaming his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
According to the insiders who spoke to Politico, Kushner, who pushed Trump to back the bill, convinced his father-in-law that it would be a boon to his reelection. Kushner argued that Trump would win over black voters and moderate white voters squeamish about the president’s racism. Trump seems to have thought one moderately good thing would cancel out all the bad things. Now he sees the error of that logic:
“He’s been telling Jared, ‘I got nothing from that,’” a person close to the White House said of criminal justice reform, adding that the president feels duped by claims that his popularity has grown and that he is frustrated with Kushner’s attempts to “jawbone” the issue into every speech he delivers.
As ever, Trump is solely focused on appealing to his base, and his base doesn’t want to hear about his allowing nonviolent drug offenders out of jail early. They want to hear him talk about executions.
Kushner’s political miscalculation is not exactly a surprise. He’s putting together a pretty impressive list of misfires on that front. Just last month, he reportedly urged Trump to commute the sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich because Democrats, he suggested, would like it. They wouldn’t.
Kushner also famously urged Trump to fire former FBI director James Comey, in part because he reportedly thought it would play well with Democrats. Again, he was wrong.