Ivanka Trump married a man who, in many ways, appears to be the total opposite of her father, though they are both scions of wealthy real-estate families. Donald Trump’s life has been full of marital drama and sexual-misconduct allegations; Jared Kushner has been married to Ivanka for nearly 13 years and seems like he’d blanch at “locker-room talk.” Trump is best known for fumbling a biblical citation and awkwardly using a Bible a photo prop; Kushner is a devout Orthodox Jew. Trump is a larger-than-life celebrity who thrives on public attention; Kushner is so press-shy that most Americans don’t know what his voice sounds like.
When it was reported that Kushner had scored a seven-figure deal to write a memoir of his time as a White House adviser, many assumed it would be a dry affair that mainly just talked up his work on the Abraham Accords. But it turns out Kushner is more similar to his father-in-law than we realized: Breaking History is like the more respectable, Javanka version of Trump’s $75 burn book Our Journey Together. Excerpts and early reporting show that Kushner does plenty of score settling in the 512-page memoir, dropping surprising allegations and stirring up new drama with former colleagues in the Trump administration, where he served as senior adviser to the president. Here’s a running list of all the hot Breaking History gossip ahead of the book’s August 23 release.
Jared & Ivanka had a star-studded reunion.
We’ve known for years that Jared initially broke up with Ivanka over religious differences, but a few months later their mutual friend, Wendi Murdoch, arranged a reunion. In Breaking History, he shares some glamorous details about that fateful weekend, per the New York Times:
On that Sunday, we were having lunch at Bono’s house in the town of Eze on the French Riviera, when Rupert stepped out to take a call. He came back and whispered in my ear, “They blinked, they agreed to our terms, we have The Wall Street Journal.” After lunch, Billy Joel, who had also been with us on the boat, played the piano while Bono sang with the Irish singer-songwriter Bob Geldof.
Trump warned him that Tom Brady was after Ivanka (but he wasn’t).
Kushner got off on the wrong foot with his future father-in-law. He writes that his first interaction with Trump came in 2007, when he was publisher of the New York Observer. According to Forward, Kushner says he received a letter from Trump expressing annoyance about his low placement on the paper’s annual power list. “Please stop sending me your paper, so I don’t have to read bullshit like this anymore!” Trump wrote to Kushner.
Two years later, Kushner had started dating Ivanka and their relationship was getting serious. At her urging, he scheduled a lunch with her father and broke the news that Ivanka was converting to Judaism. Per Forward:
“Well, let me ask you a question,” Trump asked Kushner. “Why does she have to convert? Why can’t you convert?” Kushner replied that she had made the decision on her own and was comfortable with it. “That’s great,” Trump then remarked. “Most people think I’m Jewish anyway. Most of my friends are Jewish. I have all these awards from the synagogues. They love me in Israel.”
He added that he hoped Kushner was serious because Tom Brady, the iconic NFL quarterback, was also courting his daughter
Though Trump has been publicly talking up a potential Tom Brady–Ivanka pairing for years, it appears neither Brady nor Ivanka ever expressed any interest in dating each other. And upon further investigation, Brady was newly married to Gisele Bündchen when Trump issued this warning to Kushner.
Trump spoiled his engagement surprise.
A few months later, Kushner snuck into Trump Tower again without telling Ivanka to ask Donald Trump for his blessing. He let his future father-in-law know that he was planning to surprise Ivanka, but quickly learned Trump isn’t very good at keeping secrets. Vanity Fair reports:
On the second meeting, when Kushner snuck into the office to secretly tell Trump that he was going to propose, Trump intercommed with Ivanka as soon as he left to alert her that an engagement was imminent. (Kushner ended up proposing that night in his apartment, which his brother, Josh, covered in rose petals and candles, after taking her to see the musical Wicked.)
The Secret Service actually loved him.
Though you may have heard that Jared and Ivanka would not let the Secret Service agents on their protection detail use the bathroom in their swanky D.C. home, Kushner says that’s untrue. He claims they offered to let the agents use their bathroom but they declined, saying they wanted a larger space they could use as a command post.
Kushner also says the Secret Service assigned him the code name “mechanic” because they thought he was amazing at his job. “They had observed me quietly and methodically fixing problems behind the scenes during the presidential campaign,” he says, per the Washington Examiner.
Bannon threatened to break him “in half.”
Kushner says that he had many clashes with fellow Trump adviser Steve Bannon, and found himself “woefully unprepared” when Bannon, “a black belt in the dark arts of media manipulation,” finally declared war on him. Kushner writes that Bannon threatened him in the White House Cabinet Room when he told him that he had to stop leaking negative information about Gary Cohn, a senior economic adviser, to the press. Per CNN:
Kushner writes that Bannon responded: “‘Cohn’s the one leaking on me … Jared, right now, you’re the one undermining the President’s agenda,’ he continued, his eyes intense and voice escalating into a yell. ‘And if you go against me, I will break you in half. Don’t f— with me.’”
Kushner says Bannon threatened him again when he called Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, at the urging of the White House chief of staff, in an attempt to clean up a story about Trump’s disappointment with his senior staff. “How f—ing dare you leak on me? If you leak out on me, I can leak out on you 28 ways from Sunday,” Bannon said, according to Kushner.
He “joked” that getting Bannon fired was one of his greatest accomplishments.
After Trump finally got tired of Bannon’s antics and fired him in August 2017, Kushner joked to a (not particularly supportive) friend that he was proud of himself. Per CNN:
“Admitting that I didn’t yet have any major policy successes to show for my seven months in government, I joked, ‘At least I was able to get Steve Bannon fired. That partially saves the world from immediate disaster,’” Kushner writes, noting that his friend told him, “You don’t get credit for that … you’re supposed to do that.”
Then he generously encouraged Trump to pardon Bannon.
In the end, Kushner proved himself the bigger man (according to Kushner). He writes that despite all the threats and lies, he didn’t object when Trump pardoned Bannon, who was facing a federal trial for allegedly defrauding Trump donors out of $1 million. CNN reports:
“Seriously?” Trump said to Kushner, according to the book. “You would really be for that? After everything he did to you?”
“Bannon single-handedly caused more problems for me than anyone else in my time in Washington. He probably leaked and lied about me more than everyone else combined. He played dirty and dragged me into the mud of the Russia investigation. But now that he was in trouble, I felt like helping him was the right thing to do,” Kushner writes.
He indirectly ruined Christie’s shot at chief of staff.
Kushner claims he also responded magnanimously when Trump considered making Chris Christie his chief of staff about halfway through his presidency, though the former New Jersey governor put his father in prison as a federal prosecutor. (Trump eventually pardoned Charles Kushner, too.) Vanity Fair reports:
When Trump asked Kushner what he thought of bringing his adversary into a top spot in the White House, Kushner recalled telling his father-in-law that he was fine with it. “I joked that Christie might be better at Homeland Security: ‘If he can close the George Washington Bridge, maybe he could close the border,’” a reference to the Bridgegate scandal that embroiled the former New Jersey governor.
But Kushner suggests karma came for Christie anyway: He didn’t get the job because he was about to release a book in which he trashed the Kushner family, and he couldn’t stop its publication. “Ironically, Christie’s petty obsession with using my family to get media attention had destroyed his dream opportunity to rehabilitate his image and finish his political career,” Kushner writes.
Christie has claimed he rejected Trump’s offer to be secretary of State, and he gave Vanity Fair this zinger: “I look forward to seeing Jared’s book end up where it belongs: in the fiction section at Barnes & Noble.”
John Kelly shoved Ivanka.
With internal Trump White House drama spinning out of control in the summer of 2017, retired Marine Corps general John Kelly was promoted to chief of staff and tasked with imposing some military discipline on the White House. He promptly put an end to the 11-day reign of Anthony Scaramucci, but Kushner alleges that he became a West Wing bully himself. Kushner says Kelly had a “Jekyll-and-Hyde” demeanor, was “consistently duplicitous,” and once “let his mask fully slip” when he shoved Ivanka. Per the Washington Post:
“One day he had just marched out of a contentious meeting in the Oval Office,” Kushner writes. “Ivanka was walking down the main hallway in the West Wing when she passed him. Unaware of his heated state of mind, she said, ‘Hello, chief.’ Kelly shoved her out of the way and stormed by. She wasn’t hurt, and didn’t make a big deal about the altercation, but in his rage Kelly had shown his true character.”
In his recounting, Kushner writes that, about an hour later, Kelly visited Ivanka’s second-floor West Wing office to offer what he describes as “a meek apology, which she accepted.”
When asked about the incident, Kelly told the Post, “I don’t recall anything like you describe.”
“It is inconceivable that I would EVER shove a woman. Inconceivable. Never happen,” Kelly told the paper in an email. “Would never intentionally do something like that. Also, don’t remember ever apologizing to her for something I didn’t do. I’d remember that.”
Ivanka told the Post that her husband’s account is accurate, and Julia Radford, her chief of staff, said she witnessed Kelly’s apology.
Kelly secretly listened to Trump’s calls.
Kushner says that Kelly routinely listened in on Trump’s phone calls and the president only found out about it days before the chief of staff’s departure on January 2, 2019. According to the New York Post, Kushner says Kelly’s successor, Mick Mulvaney, raised the issue during a dinner at Vice-President Mike Pence’s residence:
“Before we departed, Mulvaney and I met with the president to discuss his upcoming schedule. Then Mulvaney handed Trump a document to sign,” Kushner recounted.
Mulvaney told Trump, “This will end the practice Kelly started of listening to all of your phone calls.”
Mulvaney “explain[ed] that Kelly had given himself the ability to listen surreptitiously to the president’s calls,” according to the account.
The president was “stunned at the invasion of privacy” and ordered aides to “end that immediately.”
Trump said he hoped Alice Johnson wouldn’t “kill anyone” after he commuted her sentence.
In an excerpt provided to People, Kushner describes how he helped Kim Kardashian with her effort to have Alice Johnson’s prison sentence commuted. “In an Oval Office meeting in May , after working closely with Kim Kardashian to vet the file, I presented Alice’s case to the president,” Kushner writes. White House counsel Don McGahn offered some pushback, accusing Johnson of being a drug “kingpin.” But Trump was open to the idea, so Kushner arranged for the fellow reality-TV star to come to the Oval Office.
“She gracefully presented Alice’s case to the president,” Kushner says of Kardashian. “She knew the details backward and forward.” McGahn went easy in his counterarguments because he was “starstruck.” Kushner recalls, “Two days later, [Trump] called me early in the morning and said, ‘Let’s do the pardon. Let’s hope Alice doesn’t go out and kill anyone!’”
Kushner was secretly treated for thyroid cancer and didn’t tell Trump.
While heading to Texas on Air Force One in October 2019, White House physician Sean Conley pulled Kushner aside and told him he had thyroid cancer, according to a book excerpt provided to the New York Times.
“Your test results came back from Walter Reed,” Conley told Kushner. “It looks like you have cancer. We need to schedule a surgery right away.”
Kushner says he asked the doctor to hold off one day, adding, “Please don’t tell anyone — especially my wife or my father-in-law.”
The cancer was caught “early,” but required removing a “substantial part of my thyroid,” Kushner wrote. He purposely scheduled the surgery for the Friday before Thanksgiving so his absence might go unnoticed.
Kushner doesn’t offer much explanation as to why he wanted to keep his illness from his colleagues, according to the Times, but Mulvaney’s comment to the paper underscores that they weren’t a terribly sensitive team:
“This was a personal problem and not for public consumption,” he wrote. “With the exception of Ivanka, Avi, Cassidy and Mulvaney, I didn’t tell anyone at the White House — including the president,” he wrote, referring to his wife, Ivanka Trump; two of his aides; and Mick Mulvaney, then the White House chief of staff.
A person close to Mr. Mulvaney, after learning of the book’s reference to him, said he did not recall being told about Mr. Kushner’s condition.
Trump found out anyway, and he asked Kushner if he was nervous the day before the surgery. Kushner asked his father-in-law how he learned about his illness. “I’m the president. I know everything,” Trump said. “I understand that you want to keep these things quiet. I like to keep things like this to myself as well. You’ll be just fine.”
Rupert Murdoch told him that Trump’s 2020 Arizona loss was “ironclad.”
Murdoch and his former wife Wendi Deng are so close with Jared and Ivanka that they arranged to reunite the young couple after they split for a few months early in their courtship. This tie worked to Donald Trump’s advantage early in the 2016 campaign; in excerpts of Breaking History obtained by The Guardian, Kushner says he convinced his father-in-law not to attack the owner of Fox News on Twitter:
“Please, you’re in a Republican primary,” I said, hoping he wasn’t about to post a negative tweet aimed at the most powerful man in conservative media. “You don’t need to get on the wrong side of Rupert. Give me a couple of hours to fix it.”
Kushner says he did just that, calling up Murdoch and convincing him that his interests aligned with Trump’s, and the reality-TV host actually had a shot at winning.
But that alliance couldn’t save Trump four years later. Kushner called Murdoch to protest Fox News’ decision to call Arizona for Biden on Election Night, and Murdoch said he’d look into it. A few minutes later he called back and said, “Sorry, Jared, there is nothing I can do … The Fox News data authority says the numbers are ironclad — he says it won’t be close.”
Kushner claims January 6 violence was unexpected.
Cassidy Hutchinson told the House committee investigating January 6 that she was “scared and nervous” in the lead up to January 6 because she kept hearing people talk about the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys attending Trump’s rally. She recalled that even her boss Mark Meadows remarked, “things might get real, real bad on January 6.”
But Kushner writes that he’s sure none of his White House colleagues were concerned about the event. He writes, per The Hill:
The violent storming of the Capitol was wrong and unlawful. It did not represent the hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters, or the tens of millions of Trump voters, who were good, decent, and law- abiding citizens. What is clear to me is that no one at the White House expected violence that day.
I’m confident that if my colleagues or the president had anticipated violence, they would have prevented it from happening. After more than six hundred peaceful Trump rallies, these rioters gave Trump’s critics the fodder they had wanted for more than five years. It allowed them to say that Trump’s supporters were crazed and violent thugs. The claim was as false as the narrative that the violent Antifa rioters who desecrated American cities that summer were representative of the millions of peaceful demonstrators who had marched for equality under the law.
More on Jared and Ivanka
- Trump Pretends Jared and Ivanka Didn’t Quit, He Fired Them
- Ivanka Doesn’t Even Want to Be Seen With Dad on Instagram
- Ivanka Trump Supports Dad, Just Won’t Be Seen With Him