Trump chief of staff ‘shoved’ Ivanka at White House, Kushner book says

John Kelly, who Kushner and wife saw as ‘consistently duplicitous’, ‘showed his true character’ in hallway incident, memoir says

While chief of staff to Donald Trump, the retired general John Kelly “shoved” Ivanka Trump in a White House hallway, Jared Kushner writes in his forthcoming memoir.

The detail from Breaking History, which will be published in August, was reported by the Washington Post.

Kushner, the Post said, writes that he and his wife saw Kelly as “consistently duplicitous”.

“One day he had just marched out of a contentious meeting in the Oval Office. Ivanka was walking down the main hallway in the West Wing when she passed him. Unaware of his heated state of mind, she said, ‘Hello, chief.’ Kelly shoved her out of the way and stormed by. She wasn’t hurt, and didn’t make a big deal about the altercation, but in his rage Kelly had shown his true character.”

Kushner writes that Kelly offered a “meek” apology about an hour later.

Kelly told the Post: “I don’t recall anything like you describe. It is inconceivable that I would EVER shove a woman. Inconceivable. Never happen. Would never intentionally do something like that. Also, don’t remember ever apologising to her for something I didn’t do. I’d remember that.”

A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump said her husband’s description was accurate, the Post said.

The Post also said Kushner writes that Kelly gave his wife “compliments to her face that she knew were insincere.

“Then the four-star general would call her staff to his office and berate and intimidate them over trivial procedural issues that his rigid system often created. He would frequently refer to her initiatives like paid family leave and the child tax credit as ‘Ivanka’s pet projects.’”

Kushner also describes a confrontation between Kelly and Chinese officials in Beijing in 2017 in which Kushner says the former general was overly aggressive. Kelly defended his conduct to the Post and said he accepted a Chinese apology.

Kushner writes: “In that moment, I finally understood John Kelly. To him, everything was a game of establishing dominance and control. He made people feel small and unimportant to establish the relationship from a place of power. Then, with his position firmly established, he would charm and disarm, leaving people relieved that they were on his good side, but fearful of what would happen if they crossed him.”

The alleged shove of Ivanka was also mentioned by a New York Times reporter, Kenneth P Vogel, amid a string of revelations from Kushner’s book.

In tweets, Vogel revealed Kushner’s version of a 2020 election-night call with the Fox News owner, Rupert Murdoch; Trump’s comments on pardons and sentencing reform and White House dynamics on the issue; and Kushner’s view of Steve Bannon, the former strategist Trump pardoned on charges of fraud.

Kushner was a senior adviser to his father-in-law throughout Trump’s four years in the White House. Kelly, once of the US Marine Corps, was the second of four chiefs of staff. In a chaotic and leak-prone White House, relations between Kelly and Trump quickly soured. Kelly left the administration – fired or retired – in December 2018.

Scenes from their stormy relationship have dotted reports and books about Trump’s time in power. In 2021, for example, Michael C Bender, then of the Wall Street Journal, reported that Kelly was stunned during a trip to Europe in 2018 when Trump told him: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

Trump denied that remark and attacked Kelly. In September, the then president told reporters: “I know John Kelly. He was with me, didn’t do a good job, had no temperament, and ultimately he was petered out. He got eaten alive. He was unable to handle the pressure of this job.”

Kelly spoke out while Trump was still in power.

In 2020, Kelly reportedly told friends: “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.”


Martin Pengelly in New York

The GuardianTramp

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