At one point during the campaign, when Trump wanted to speak more substantively about China, he gave Kushner a summary of his views and then asked him to do some research. Kushner simply went on Amazon, where he was struck by the title of one book, “Death by China,” co-authored by Peter Navarro. He cold-called Navarro, a well-known trade-deficit hawk, who agreed to join the team as an economic adviser. (When he joined, Navarro was in fact the campaign’s only economic adviser.)Kushner operated in much the same way when it came to crafting Trump’s tax plan—calling up someone for help out of the blue. Given the initial absence of pros who could do the job properly, he also tried his hand at writing speeches. Responding to criticism from the boss (“Jared, this is terrible!”), Kushner said, according to a person familiar with the episode, “I’m not a fucking speechwriter. I am a real-estate guy.”
Kushner is a real estate guy, and he is also the person that Donald Trump keeps putting in charge of major policy assignments. Remember, that it is Jared Kushner, who according to the Trump, is supposed to bring peace to the Middle East.
A president can’t have his son in law search Amazon for top advisers and think that everything is going to turn out well. The incompetence and lack of concern displayed by this administration for their responsibility to put qualified people in important positions are arguably an impeachable high crime against this country.
You’ll hear White House veterans say that working in the West Wing is like being on a submarine, sealed off from the rest of the world. “You are right on top of each other and you see each other all the time,” recalled one West Wing veteran. “The day-to-day volume of stuff that comes your way in the White House is overwhelming, especially to a new group.” What sustains you, this person went on, are the stated principles of the president and the dedication of the people working with him to pursue that vision. Ken Duberstein, a White House chief of staff to Ronald Reagan, told me, “There’s only one agenda in any White House, and it’s the president’s.”
But now, in full view of the country and the world, we are watching what happens when a president is elected on the basis of an incoherent and crowd-sourced agenda, one that pandered to white nationalists and stoked economic anxiety. When that same president is someone who has never managed a large bureaucracy and brings almost no close associates who have. And when some of the aides he haphazardly acquired a few months before taking office care more about their own ambitions than his own—whatever they are.