Trump didn’t really believe the birther conspiracy he was pushing, son-in-law reportedly says

·Senior Writer

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, as a senior adviser, multiple media outlets reported Monday afternoon.

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, has been a longtime confidante of the president-elect. In a New York magazine cover profile of Kushner, “The Young Trump,” Andrew Rice reports that “back when Trump was spinning birther conspiracy theories, which were lapped up by gullible Republicans, one person who talked to Kushner says he offered assurances his father-in-law didn’t really believe that stuff.”

The 35-year-old entrepreneur — who served as a key adviser to the Trump campaign, particularly in the weeks leading up to the election — has long tried to convince his friends and business associates that there’s a different, more pragmatic Trump than the one America saw on the campaign trail.

Arthur Mirante, a real estate broker, told the magazine that he “occasionally sent quizzical emails” to Kushner, who served as an unofficial adviser to Trump, after some of the candidate’s more outlandish statements.

“And I would always get a typical Jared response,” Mirante said. “That was, ‘Look, there’s a bigger picture here, you know. I know what he said maybe didn’t look good, but he really didn’t mean it that way.’ There was always the typical Jared explanation, totally devoid of politics. Just that, ‘There are things happening here that you don’t understand, and this is going to work out, trust me.’”

“People say he’s unhinged,” Kushner reportedly said of Trump to another associate. “I think he unhinged everyone else.”

Jared Kushner (New York magazine)
Jared Kushner (New York magazine)

In December, Kushner told a meeting of 400 business executives for the Partnership for New York City that the world’s financial markets had warmed to the idea of a President Trump.

“I thought I would need to explain to the business community what a Trump presidency means,” Kushner said, according to the magazine. “But the markets seem to have figured it out.”

More details from their meeting:

David Zaslav, the chief executive of the Discovery cable network, asked Kushner how it would be possible in the future to have a national discussion based on facts. Kushner replied that it was the media that was deluded about America, claiming his own computer models told him the morning of the election that Trump would capture more than 300 electoral votes. Recognizing that outlets like CNN and the Times were implacably against Trump, Kushner said, the campaign cut a deal to grant softball interviews to a local broadcast chain with a strong presence in the Midwest. Sympathizers on Facebook spread their own news through their social networks. The result, he said, was a campaign by alternative means. Kushner believes Trump’s victory was a repudiation of the media and both political parties — the entire governing Establishment. He said he was “proud” Trump had won only 4 percent of the vote in Washington, D.C.

Kushner acknowledged that Trump was “easy to hate from afar,” but he claimed his father-in-law was different once he got down to business in the privacy of the boardroom. He predicted the administration would take a “rational” position on immigration and would join with Democrats to invest in infrastructure, which he said could mean not only roads and bridges but high-speed internet and driverless cars. He said Trump had asked Elon Musk why the aerospace industry couldn’t make planes that fly faster, like the Concorde used to, and Musk replied that most CEOs preferred incremental improvements to moon-shot risks. “Trump will not be afraid to fail,” he said.

The soft-spoken Kushner did not grant an on-the-record interview during the campaign. But according to Rice, his influence inside it was felt.

“There were three campaign managers,” a political consultant who knows Kushner told the magazine. “There was only one son-in-law.”

Kushner, Rice concludes, has more in common with the president-elect than appearances might suggest: “He and Trump share a clannish outlook on life, business, and politics.”

But Kushner’s reported appointment to the White House raises possible ethics concerns, including the flaunting of antinepotism laws that prevent public officials from employing their relatives.

Speaking to reporters at Trump Tower Monday, Trump was asked what role he expects Kushner to have in his administration.

“We’ll talk about that on Wednesday,” Trump said.

President-elect Donald Trump greets his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, at his election night rally in Manhattan, Nov. 9, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
President-elect Donald Trump greets his daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, at his election night rally in Manhattan, Nov. 9, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

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