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In new book, former AG Bill Barr praises Jared Kushner’s knack for navigating Trump chaos

Jared Kushner, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, said early in the 2020 presidential race that Trump’s erratic and contentious behavior would lead to defeat, former Attorney General Bill Barr writes in his memoir, to be released Tuesday.

“As they say, there is only one man who can beat Donald Trump and his name is Donald Trump,” Barr, who served under Trump, quotes Kushner in his forthcoming book, “One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General.”

Rod Rosenstein and Bill Barr

Attorney General Bill Barr (left) with Rod Rosenstein at a farewell event for Rosenstein held on May 9 in Washington, D.C. Image by Getty

He recounts a meeting he had with Kushner in April 2020, in which he shared with Kushner his frustration at Trump’s “self-destructive behavior” and the constant drama around him. “I have the same concerns,” Barr quotes Kushner as saying.

“I am working on it,” Kushner assured Barr in the fall of 2020 as Trump contested the election results and refused to take part in the transition process with President-elect Joe Biden. Barr resigned in December as Trump was actively engaged in efforts to foil the certification of Biden as president.

Other highlights from the memoir include:

High praise for Jared and Ivanka

Barr writes that he found Kushner to be an “important ally” at the White House. “The more I had gotten to know Jared, the more I was impressed with his calm rationality and common sense,” Barr writes about Kushner.

His high regard for Kushner extended to Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter and Kushner’s wife. “I always found them reasonable and down-to-earth,” Barr writes. “Their offices were oases of rationality and professionalism.” He describes Ivanka Trump as “intelligent, unaffected, capable, and highly dedicated” and “a pleasure to work with.”

When Barr had a disagreement with Trump or others at the White House, most of the time Kushner would see eye-to-eye with him, he writes. “In a dispute touching on the law, Jared could be counted on to side with DOJ and White House counsel’s office.”

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He quotes Kushner as saying to him that his “batting average is no better than .500” when it came to convincing his father-in-law to change his position on a given matter.

Trump’s doorkeeper

Barr writes that his first interaction with Trump was in June 2017 at the behest of David Friedman, the then U.S. ambassador to Israel. Friedman, who served as Trump’s longtime bankruptcy lawyer, “was apparently trying to identify senior lawyers with Washington experience who might be willing to augment Trump’s personal defense team” in the Russian election interference probe, Barr writes.

Friedman asked Barr to meet with Trump to offer advice, even if he wasn’t willing to give up his job to join the defense team. “The flattery worked,” Barr — who didn’t join the team — writes of Friedman’s efforts to secure an Oval Office meeting.

Longtime Jewish relationships

Barr’s memoir includes a photo of a meeting he had with Orthodox leaders in January 2020 in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. At the meeting, Barr said he was “extremely distressed” by the increase in violent antisemitic attacks against Jews in New York and announced federal hate crime charges against a woman who had assaulted Orthodox Jews.

Attorney General William Barr and Jewish community leaders at a meeting at the Boro Park JCC on Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Attorney General William Barr and Jewish community leaders at a meeting hosted by the Boro Park JCC on January 28, 2020 Image by Boro Park JCC

In the caption, Barr writes that his relationship with Orthodox leaders go back to the first time he served as attorney general under President George H. Bush. In 1992, Agudath Israel of America honored Barr with a humanitarian award for his vigilance against antisemitism. He refers to Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president, as his “old friend from the last go-around.”

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