Journalists aren't paid to do this, and editors would probably get into real trouble if they did and then ran the story under a branded masthead. But the rest of us can and should speculate. So without further ado, let's jump right in.
The clip provided below is only useful for the first 15 seconds. It shows Jared Kushner easing out of the White House to present his press conference. It's a huge moment, which he seems to handle with aplomb. I'm sure his wife Ivanka, and his father in law the president, and his supporters, couldn't have been happier with the performance. I'm not sure Don junior was as thrilled.
Opinion: Jared Kushner just threw Donald Trump Jr. under the bus. Bigly. https://t.co/9oniYOX8Og— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 24, 2017
The 15 seconds showing Kushner ambulating, as though walking on air, is noteworthy simply to make a cheeky observation. Kushner's appearance is perfect in a sense. Shiny dark hair combed over, neat, handsome, he seems too good to be true. He has a baby-faced "nice boy" vibe about him. It stands in stark contrast to Trump's mean, tough guy stance. That Kushner is Trump's senior adviser in the White House says a lot about both Trump and Kushner. Kushner seems like a well-mannered and reserved fellow, whereas Trump can be rude, loud and brash. One can understand Kushner quietly providing service to Trump, and Trump lavishing in the quality of his intelligence, preparation and strategy.
But more simply, Kushner gliding out of the White House resembles the best student in class about to present a book report. The report itself is bland, and probably doesn't represent Kushner's own thoughts, just what the teacher wants to hear. He is bright enough to know that this is enough, and confident in his stylish execution to pull it off convincingly. And he does. Sort of.
The second clip is better, because it provides a close up view of Kushner's face, and his microexpression.
The first clue as to what is really going on occurs, as it usually does, with the opening communication. Instead of greeting the press, a fairly large crowd huddled around, Kushner opens up with:
"My name is Jared Kushner..."
In other words, he is so caught up in the urgency of what he is doing, he's leaked the fact that he doesn't see the press as friendly, or fair, or worth acknowledging in any way. As such, we can anticipate a less than 100% authentic statement. This is hardly surprising, given what must be spoken behind closed doors, and even to the media by other White House staff. But it provides an early indication of Kushner's subtle contempt. "I am..." whereas those he is addressing do not exist, and do not matter.
In a classroom situation, the best kid reading a book report isn't doing it for his classmates, even though that's how it appears to them. He's doing it for his boss, the teacher, who will grade him. That's all that matters.
Kushner opens his statement on a sentimental note. He served his father in law because he "believed in him" and believed in his ability to "improve the lives of all Americans." This may sound marvellous on paper, and perhaps to his uneducated white male supporters, but what's clear is you'd have to be an imbecile to either believe Trump, or "believe in him." That was true during the presidential debates in 2016, and it's doubly true now, given the almost constant gaffes, provable lies, contradictions, inappropriate comments, hirings, firings and general malaise of Trump's presidency. Kushner's glowing endorsement of Trump is also at odds with dad's approval ratings.
That's like a student praising the teacher who praises him while the school and community think the teacher is doing a terrible job.
Kushner's apparently altruistic support of Trump because he believes Trump will improve the lives of all Americans is laughable. The tax clauses in the Trumpcare bill are clear evidence that equity isn't the goal. Trump is a divisive leader, he's more for exclusion than inclusion. He's an autocrat rather than a democrat. For his entire life it has been about me first, making bullshit deals that advance his interests and no one else's. The uneducated white idiots who voted for him somehow believe just because Trump says he'll look after them, he will, even though he has a record of suing those he's neglected, who dare to challenge him.
When Kushner refers to his service of Trump and the American people as the "honor and privilege of a lifetime" he looks down. It's interesting that he looks down while saying the word honor, and up when saying the word privilege. It's difficult to a look a crowd in the eye when you don't mean something. It's easy, and it's what you want to do, when you mean something and mean to emphasise it. Try emphasising anything to a group of people while looking down - it doesn't work. No one does that.
Kushner refers to working on "important matters" such as [and here he stumbles] "Middle East peace" and [he stumbles again] "reinvigorating America's innovative spirit." We know the actual game in geopolitics right now is to destabilise the Middle East, which is why it's in those vested interests to keep the Syrians conflict - or any sort of conflict - going in the Middle East for as long as possible.
As to the former, Trump has spoken often of opposing the Iran deal, and things in the Middle East, with the blockade against Qatar, and the Muslim ban [effected against several Middle Eastern/Muslim countries] are arguably worse than ever. During Trump's visit to the area recently, there were a number of terrorist attacks including in Manchester, seemingly in protest to Trump and to exclusivism and isolationism, though few have drawn these inferences, even in the mainstream media.
All of that is not much of a muchness however. It's at the 1:30 mark that Kushner begins to address the Russian elephant sitting on the White House lawn. He does this by invoking this idea of a bright, enthusiastic, dedicated worker bee coming to work to do his best. It's the book report thing, all over again. Kushner emphasises the fact that he hasn't sought the public eye, but that he's been eager to share any information he has.
Well, except he hasn't. He has made his disclosures under pressure, and he has been less than forthcoming in his business disclosures. There are reports indicating Kushner has amended or updated his disclosures around 100 times, that is a helluva lot of editing the narrative behind closed doors, and presumably a lot of "cooking the books", as time might put it.
In the same way Kushner is less than honest, I believe, in saying he "believes in Trump", and that it's for the greater good, he's less than honest about his eagerness to be transparent. One would expect the son in law of a billionaire to be eager to see how dad's rise to power might benefit him and his wife in some way. We can understand that sort of eagerness. We can also understand an eagerness to be protective of information that could get him or dad into any trouble.
There's another stumble at 1:39 where Kushner corrects himself over "records and documents provided...voluntarily provided..." We'll look at those in a moment.
Kushner himself says it best when he characterises all of his actions as "proper." Once again, he certainly looks like a well brought up gentleman. The only thing vaguely improper about Kushner, on the surface at least, is his coziness with Trump, his marriage to the president's daughter, and of course the Russian elephant sitting on the lawn behind the media kids. It's the equivalent of the book report kid taking the teacher's daughter to the prom, and running personal errands for the teacher, for reward. Nothing wrong with that unless you're any other kid in the school, and none of those kids would say what you're doing is in anyone's best interest except your own.
At 01:49 Kushner provides the soundbite ultimately chosen by the networks:
"Let me be very clear, I did not collude with Russia, nor did I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so." And then he looks down.
"I had no improper contacts." And then he looks down.
"I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses." And then he looks down, and blinks.
All of these statements are clear and convincing, the only problem with them is perhaps their clarity. The clarity is a mismatch with each pregnant pause to regain his composure.
If the blink is a flicker, it gets worse from here on out.
"And I have been [looks down for the first time while speaking] fully transparent, in providing all requested [looks down just before he ends the sentence] information."
On this crucial question of honesty, which is essentially - have you been honest? I have been completely honest - Kushner can't maintain the urgent emphasis, and he can't wait for the sentence to end so he can break contact.
Now, truly flustered, Kushner tries to end with a bang.
"Donald Trump had a better message [blinks, glances down] and ran a smarter campaign, and that...is why...he won." This is perhaps Kushner's best moment, the last part of this sentence, which he emphasises in tone, and pacing, and by nodding slightly in a kind of aggressive head point to the kids listening to his book report. Of course Trump's message wasn't better, and he didn't win because it was better, he won because Americans were gabbing about Hillary Clinton's emails, and Pizzagate and whatnot. It wasn't a question of better message, it was a question of undermining and maligning someone else's. If the Trump campaign got anything right, it was to figure out the College vote, and on what lines it could be won.
They found that a majority might be found in the uneducated masses who found their prospects diminishing. Make America Great Again was high school code for Make My Life Great Again.
If a billionaire saviour bully could be on their side, make deals for them, convince them he was their jobs and money saviour, and could deliver them from their lot as a social class, they might have a chance. But they'd need the opponent - Crooked Hillary - to look bad at the same time. That's how they won, and while brilliant, it was also cynical and criminal. The motive was never to help or attend to these havenots, it was to prey on them for one's own benefit, at their expense and then invalidate the media and the educated masses with maelstroms of nonsense and nonsensical news conferences. Like this one.
"Suggesting otherwise, ridicules those who voted for him." An ironic lever this, but a brilliant way once again to politicise and weaponise the allegation to Trump's, his own and their supporters benefit. Turn the allegation into a rallying point, and contaminate the commentary of Trump's ridiculing and ridiculous presidency.
"It is an honor to work with president Trump, and his administration..." During this entire sentence, which is perhaps the biggest whopper of all, Kushner glances down throughout. It's the longest verbal exchange where he doesn't make eye contact, and that's significant. How hard is it to look up and say it's an honor to work for teacher dad, and be married to his daughter, and have them both be elevated to the school's governing body, with me as the national representative for book report reading...
How hard is that to do to one's classmates, with the Russian elephant chomping grass on the White House lawn? If he looked up then he'd be looking right into the faces of those sitting in on those silly Sean Spicer sessions. Yes, difficult to keep a straight face.
After vomiting a few more empty aphorisms, Kushner - Mr Transparency, Mr Eager to share - promises to answer questions, just not from his classmates, who, obviously, aren't his classmates at all.
Only then, having given them the finger, does he thank them, wheel around and walk back into the air conditioned huff he came from.
In part 2 I'll analyse his written statement.