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Promoting His Memoir, Kushner Offers Tortured Defenses of Trump

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WASHINGTON — Making the rounds promoting his recent memoir, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald J. Trump, this week bumped into the query he has managed for months to avoid commenting on publicly: Did he agree with Mr. Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen?

“I feel that there’s different words,” Mr. Kushner told the talk show host Megyn Kelly during a friendly interview on SiriusXM. He added, “I feel there’s an entire bunch of various approaches that different people have taken, and different theories.”

Pressed to say whether Mr. Trump lost, Mr. Kushner demurred. “I think it was a really sloppy election,” he said. “I feel that there’s lots of issues that I feel if litigated in another way can have had different insights into them.”

In point of fact, the words that election officials have used to explain the 2020 contest are “essentially the most secure in American history,” and judges across the country rejected nearly all the several dozen lawsuits that allies of Mr. Trump filed alleging fraud.

Mr. Kushner’s reluctance to concede as much reflected the contortions he’s now attempting as he tries to sell a book whose success hinges on his close ties to Mr. Trump. At the identical time, he’s in search of to maintain his distance from the lies and misdeeds that paved the best way for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Just like the memoir itself, titled “Breaking History,” the duty involves a highly selective narrative that casts Mr. Kushner as a young star getting things done within the White House without getting his hands dirty.

“Before I got here into office,” the unelected Mr. Kushner said on Tuesday, settling into the “Fox & Friends” couch, the “conventional pondering” had been that there could never be peace between Israel and Arab nations “until you could have peace with the Palestinians.”

In that interview, Mr. Kushner, who was a senior adviser within the Trump White House, credited himself with helping to bring an “outsider’s standpoint” to the world’s intractable problems.

In one other interview, he noted that his father-in-law had “asked me to take lead on constructing the wall.”

During a virtual book event, Mr. Kushner even suggested he is perhaps immortal, saying that he had prioritized exercising since leaving the White House because his generation could possibly be “the primary generation to live endlessly.”

Relating to Jan. 6 and the election lies that spurred the riot, Mr. Kushner is less sure-footed. Within the interview with Ms. Kelly, he labored to defend Mr. Trump’s feverish obsession with the 2020 election.

“What’s happened over the past yr is that there was a debate that’s been badly needed on this country about election integrity,” he said.

How Times reporters cover politics.
We depend on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they usually are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

After Mr. Trump left office, Mr. Kushner, a former Democrat, tried to rehabilitate his own image by telling those that he had wanted nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s lies a couple of stolen election; he writes in his book that he was desirous to begin a recent, forward-looking chapter.

But in marketing the book, which is currently amongst the very best sellers on Amazon, he has needed to reckon with the darker elements of Mr. Trump’s presidency, including the trouble to overturn a democratic election.

During Mr. Trump’s term, Mr. Kushner, a political novice, stepped into the general public eye when he wanted credit on a problem, like criminal justice reform or the Abraham Accords. But he receded into the background and evaded responsibility when it suited him, akin to when he departed for the Middle East while his father-in-law refused to concede the 2020 election and tried to make use of the Justice Department to stay in power.

In videotaped testimony to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, Mr. Kushner made clear his disdain for some White House officials who tried to steer his father-in-law away from illegal efforts to overturn the outcomes, saying that he considered threats by the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, to resign as “whining.”

With no clear audience for a book written by a former Democrat who has been shunned by his former social circle and is viewed skeptically by Mr. Trump’s right-wing base, Mr. Kushner is counting on his father-in-law’s followers to purchase what he’s selling — leading him to supply a series of tortured defenses of Mr. Trump’s most extreme conduct.

On Wednesday, when asked on Fox News if Mr. Trump made a mistake in taking classified documents with him to Mar-a-Lago after leaving office, Mr. Kushner stepped fastidiously.

“President Trump, he governed in a really peculiar way,” he said. “When he had his documents, I’m assuming he did what he thought was appropriate.”

Mr. Kushner has condemned the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, saying on Tuesday, “It just looks like what they keep doing is breaking norms of their try to attempt to get him.”

After leaving office, Mr. Trump was told repeatedly by federal officials to present back government materials that didn’t belong to him. He was found to have possessed tons of of pages of documents with classified markings — the form of conduct that Mr. Kushner eagerly encouraged his father-in-law to attack Hillary Clinton for within the 2016 election. Mr. Trump received a subpoena from the Justice Department before the eventual search of his Florida home for remaining sensitive materials.

As Mr. Kushner offers his sanitized version of the Trump presidency, his father-in-law’s political operation has stepped up to assist him hawk his book. Since mid-August, Mr. Trump’s Save America political motion committee has sent out well over a dozen emails pressing supporters to make a donation in exchange for a replica of the book.

“I’m so proud,” Mr. Trump wrote to supporters, calling the book “a MUST-READ.”

Many of the interviews granted by Mr. Kushner have been to non-public friends of Mr. Trump, like Sean Hannity of Fox News, or to the previous president’s deep admirers, just like the radio host Mark Levin.

The friendly venues have mostly spared Mr. Kushner tough questions on Mr. Trump’s role through the Jan. 6 attack. His interviewers have also steered clear of asking about how Mr. Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, whom he defends in his book as a reformer on certain topics.

Despite intimating for months to anyone who would listen that he wouldn’t be back in Mr. Trump’s political circle, Mr. Kushner has not ruled out coming back to Washington if his father-in-law ran for president again and won.

“It really would should be all the appropriate conditions to be willing to try this again,” he told Ms. Kelly.

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