Donald Trump was bewildered by his daughter’s conversion to Judaism after she fell in love with Jared Kushner in 2007 and her decision to marry him in 2009.
Trump wondered why she had to convert to marry anyone but was nevertheless gracious at her wedding to Kushner in October 2009.
He acknowledged that he hadn’t been an attentive parent while his first wife, Ivana had done all the work raising their daughter, reveals the new book American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power by Andrea Bernstein.
Trump, a Protestant but not very religious, reportedly told Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, ‘Jared is half the size of Tom Brady’s arm.
‘Why couldn’t she have married Tom Brady? Have you seen how far he throws a football?’
Jared’s parents weren’t initially happy about the union either and initially refused to meet Ivanka.
‘Jared was supposed to marry a Jew’, the author quotes the Kushners.
Jared was the grandson of Holocaust survivors and had been raised as a strict Orthodox Jew.
The couple met after Ivanka had a luncheon date with a diamond merchant, Moshe Lax in early 2007 who launched the introduction.
The lovebirds were spotted kissing by May and strolling hand in hand through SoHo by fall.
The following year, the relationship hit a sand trap with Trump not understanding why his oldest daughter wanted to marry an Orthodox Jew and Kusher’s parents still opposed to their son marrying a non-Jew.
Ivanka pushed back, saying: ‘I’m a New Yorker, I’m in real estate. I’m as close to Jewish, with a ‘i-s-h’ naturally as anyone can start off’.
But being Jew-i-s-h wasn’t enough.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the wife Wendi Deng Murdoch, Ivanka’s close friend, worked to reunite the couple on their yacht.
The ruse worked and by late summer of 2008, Ivanka began studying the Torah and observing the Sabbath.
She learned to cook Kosher, was tested by a religious panel and had a ritual cleansing dip.
‘Shiksa No More’, the New York Post reported.
Two years later, on the grounds of Trump’s N.J. Bedminster Golf Club, the Kushner’s strict Orthodox Jewish son was marrying the former shiksa who converted to Judaism under an enormous chuppah, a canopy of white flowers symbolizing Jewish hospitality, the tents of Abraham and the presence of God.
Five hundred people witnessed the lavish but traditional Orthodox wedding and dined on kosher pastrami, corned beef, turkey, sushi and Peking duck.
Family and friends, movie stars and influential people responded to Trump’s ‘implied command’ that they attend this ‘marriage of money and power, to acknowledge the authority of the patriarchs’.
But ‘the old, dynastic families of New York real estate, when asked about Trump, people said then and still say, ‘Donald Trump is not one of us’, writes the author.
He never attended the Real Estate Board of New York, the Partnership for New York City or the Alliance for a Better New York.
He didn’t attend civic events, charity balls, the ballet or opera.
He did show up on occasion at the US Open tennis tournament in Queens but always stayed in his own homes, used his own clubs and ate in restaurants that he owned.
Ivanka had been accepted in the Manhattan elite, attending private schools in the City and Connecticut, and became a sought-after supporter for causes, donating money — unlike her father — and attended the opera.
She did not have a Jersey accent like her husband or Queens accent like her father that she helped to ameliorate.
Jared and his father, Charles, founder of Kushner Cos., wanting to shed their moniker of ‘pikers from Jersey’ and escape being viewed as not smart or rich enough to make it in New York, purchased the building 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007, just blocks from Trump Tower for a record $1.8 billion.
‘The Kushners desire to enter the Manhattan market in a splashy way, to purchase their own ‘Tiffany location’ was palpable,’ writes the author, Andrea Bernstein.
Now they could say they arrived.
Jared was instrumental in that purchase and already making forays into Manhattan in 2006 with his purchase of the venerable newspaper, the New York Observer that was respected for its staff of good journalists exposing the foibles and corruption of the wealthy and powerful that included Rudy Giuliani, Martin Scorsese, Rupert Murdoch, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – among others.
Competing for that purchase was Robert DeNiro but Jared wooed the paper’s owner Arthur Carter with a fast check for $10million and a solid promise to retain staff and seek Carter’s advice on his baby.
Jared feigned loving the Observer and claimed he had no other agenda and was fully committed to Carter’s vision.
Carter had been warned that ‘the family was no good’ but he closed his ears and accepted the cash offer.
Almost immediately, Jared cut off Carter and boasted that he never read the paper in the past except maybe in airports, he didn’t read books, magazines or even journalism save for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
He immediately assigned ‘hit jobs’ on people he believed had destroyed his family by sending his father to jail.
First man up – Chris Christie who obsequiously stood behind Trump when he was running for President and hoped he would get a nod for Vice President or a cabinet position if Trump won.
Jared used the once highly respected Observer to bolster the Kushner business empire and run favorable stories on his father-in-law who had once been the target of exposés of dirty dealing.
Jared had an agenda with his hit jobs and when they didn’t check out, he assigned it to someone else to keep trying.
‘He was lovely until he was not’, the author quotes a person who knew Jared through real estate. ‘Until you had a falling out and were dead to him and he was out to get you’.
‘He understood good real estate, not necessarily good investments’, a major builder said of Jared.
‘He didn’t know any facts, but was so righteous,’ another business associate told the author.
A new Jared had emerged, more political and politically conservative – ‘a surprise given his family history of supporting Democrats’.
The newly wedded couple strategized carefully in the early years of their marriage on how to be influential New Yorkers.
‘They had a playbook: ‘Who they would have to dinner, who they would get to know, where they would go on the weekend’.
Jared followed his father-in-law into the White House as senior adviser and quietly began holding, high-level meetings with foreign countries and brokering deals he kept secret from Trump’s cabinet.
When Jared’s top-secret clearance was rejected by career security officials in the White House citing his murky business entanglements, a Trump appointee overruled them.
Ivanka went to his defense claiming no special treatment.
In the first year the couple became senior white House advisors, they made $82 million in income.
The next year, earnings were reported to be between $29 and $135 million – money earned from their stakes in the Trump Organization, Ivanka’s merchandise and Jared’s family business while working at the White House.
Trump believes that the entire apparatus of government should serve his interests. Intelligence and national security officials should see the world as he does, writes Bernstein.
‘The military’s generals are his generals, the treasury secretary’s job is to protect him from having his personal tax forms revealed.
‘When officials block him, he fires them; when those outside his sphere of influence oppose him, he discredits or sues them.
‘And there are no consequences,’ writes Bernstein.
‘Trump is constantly promoting the strands of oligarch in his current government, a government where the rules that apply are those that Trump decides will apply; a government racing towards a world where it’s impossible to play by the rules, because the rules exist only according to Trump’s whim’.