Costa: Ivanka and Jared Kushner Operate with ‘Ruthlessness’

Veteran reporter says Trump son-in-law, daughter have 'fingerprints on all aspects' of policy

by Edmund Kozak | Updated 06 Apr 2017 at 1:26 PM

Washington Post journalist Robert Costa shed light on the intimidating presence Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump use to wield influence inside the Trump White House during a Thursday appearance on the Laura Ingraham Show.

“No one wants to go against Jared or Ivanka,” Costa said. “Now you have Ivanka Trump inside of the West Wing, she’s a federal employee, so there a constant presence in the Oval Office around the president,” Costa continued.

“They really operate quietly but with some ruthlessness around the administration, having their fingerprints on all aspects of foreign, diplomatic relations, domestic policy.”

“They really operate quietly but with some ruthlessness around the administration, having their fingerprints on all aspects of foreign, diplomatic relations, domestic policy,” Costa said.

It is this influence, asserted Costa, that likely has something to do with what appears to be Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s declining clout and the president’s sudden shift to a more Establishment, neo-conservative direction regarding Syria.

“Some of Bannon’s friends tell me he’s very frustrated at times with the New York wing of the White House,” said Costa, referring to moderates like Kushner. “The president has instincts that are populist and nationalist,” Costa stressed. However, “he’s susceptible to influence,” Costa continued.

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“While he likes Bannon, and his instinct is to go with Bannon, when he has Kushner, Gary Cohn, and Dina Powell, and others around him within the Oval Office every hour he is not always moving in that [populist] direction,” Costa explained.

Costa indicated Jared and Ivanka’s influence is unlikely to subside as Trump’s presidency continues.

“When you look at the president’s career, he has always run a family business and so his family remains by his side, and that has real consequences in terms of politics and policy,” said Costa.

For example “Ivanka Trump … is trying to reach out to a lot of women … who are not necessarily conservative … and that includes the leadership of Planned Parenthood,” Costa said.

“As much as [Trump] knows Bannon represents his constituency, Bannon is not the overwhelming presence in the White House he once was,” said Costa.

This is having consequences beyond an apparent shift on Syria, and it is affecting most aspects of policy formation, according to Costa.

“After spending two years on the campaign trail talking about China and how he’s going to put it to ‘em … there’s not a coherent vision right now for what exactly this admin wants to do on China and on trade,” Costa said. “You have Cohn and his group at the National Economic Council, and they’ve been clashing with [economic populist Peter] Navarro.”

Costa said the aura of longevity Jared and Ivanka exude begets loyalty among rank-and-file staffers.

"If you are a lower-level staffer you do not want to cross them," said Costa. "There's a sense within the West Wing … that at the end of the day Trump could purge everyone — as he has in the past in his businesses and his campaign — but Jared and Ivanka will survive anything," he said.

"If they're always going to be there, you don't want to be on the wrong side of that."

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