Kushner squirms when asked about Trump’s ‘racist’ birther claims

‘Look, I wasn’t involved in that’: VERY awkward moment Jared Kushner squirms as interviewer asks him FIVE times if he thinks Trump’s birther attack on Obama was racist

  • President Trump’s son-in-law gave interview to news site Axios over weekend  
  • Reporter Jonathan Swan asks Kushner if President Trump is a racist 
  • ‘No, absolutely not,’ Kushner, who is a top adviser to the president, says
  • Swan then asks Kushner if Trump’s support of birtherism was racist
  • Kushner uncomfortably avoids answering question, saying: ‘I wasn’t involved’ 
  • Before becoming president, Trump promoted anti-Obama conspiracy theory
  • Theory claimed that Barack Obama was not really born in the United States 

Jared Kushner has refused to say whether he believes that the birther movement led by his father-in-law was racist.

During a tense interview with Axios, Kushner dodges the question when he is asked numerous times by reporter Jonathan Swan to respond to accusations that President Trump is racist.

‘Have you ever seen [Trump] say or do anything you would describe as racist or bigoted?’ Swan asks Kushner.

‘The answer is no, absolutely not,’ Kushner says.

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was grilled during an interview with Axios about accusations that Donald Trump was racist

Kushner was grilled during the interview by Axios journalist Jonathan Swan (right), who repeatedly asked the president’s son-in-law if he believed the birther movement was racist

‘You can’t not be a racist for 69 years then run for president and be a racist… when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country.’

‘Was birtherism racist?’ Swan asks.

‘Um, look, I wasn’t really involved in that,’ an increasingly uncomfortable Kushner says.

‘I know you weren’t,’ Swan says. ‘Was it racist?’

‘Look, I know who the president is and I haven’t seen anything in him that I believe is racist,’ Kushner says.

‘Did you wish he didn’t do that?’ Swan asks.

‘Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that, it was a long time ago,’ Kushner responds.

‘Birtherism’ is a reference to the claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and was thus not eligible to be elected president.

Article Two of the Constitution requires that anyone seeking the presidency must be a natural born citizen of the U.S.

In April 2011, then-President Obama released a long-form birth certificate which states that he was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu.

Before becoming president, Trump promoted the conspiracy theory which stated that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Trump is seen left with Obama during his inauguration at the Capitol on January 20, 2017

In April 2011, then-President Obama released a long-form birth certificate which states that he was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu

Before announcing his candidacy for president, Trump was one of the most vocal proponents of birtherism.

After Trump locked up the Republican nomination in September 2016, he said: ‘President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.’

In the Axios interview, Swan grills Kushner about Trump’s campaign pledge to ban Muslims from the U.S.

Kushner is asked whether Trump’s goal of barring Muslims qualifies as religious bigotry.

But the White House adviser ducks the question, saying: ‘I think [the president] is here today and I think he’s doing a lot of great things for the country.’

In December 2015, Trump used a campaign speech saying he would try to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

He has also retweeted a number of social media posts from far-right figures known to have made anti-Muslim statements.

As president, Trump instituted a travel ban from six Muslim-majority countries. The Supreme Court refused to overturn the ban after civil liberties groups sued claiming it amounted to religious discrimination. 

Turning to the Middle East, Kushner said in the interview broadcast on Sunday that the Palestinians deserve ‘self-determination,’ but stopped short of backing Palestinian statehood and expressed uncertainty over their ability to govern themselves.

Kushner was also asked about his reported plan to bring peace to the Middle East. He is seen left with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in June 2017

Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and an architect of the White House’s yet-to-be-released Middle East peace plan, told Axios it would be a ‘high bar’ when asked if the Palestinians could expect freedom from Israeli military and government interference.

The Palestinian leadership has boycotted a diplomatic effort that Trump has hailed as the ‘deal of the century.’ 

Although Kushner has been drafting the plan for two years under a veil of secrecy, it is seen by Palestinian and some Arab officials as tilting heavily in Israel’s favor and denying them a state of their own.

Kushner again avoided saying explicitly whether the plan would include a two-state solution, the bedrock of U.S. policy for decades, calling for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem.

But he said: ‘I do think they should have self-determination. I’m going to leave the details until we come out with the actual plan.’

The Palestinian Authority has said it will not attend a U.S.-sponsored investment conference in late June in Bahrain where the economic part of the initiative is expected to be unveiled.

U.S. officials have been vague about the timing for releasing proposals for resolving the thorny political issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

But experts are skeptical of the Trump administration’s chances for success.

Kushner’s plan is likely to be shelved for the foreseeable future after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (above) failed to form a coalition government this past week, triggering new elections

With Israel heading for new elections in September after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet a deadline to form a government, uncertainty is expected to further delay the rollout of the plan.

Asked whether he believed the Palestinians were capable of governing themselves without Israeli interference, Kushner said: ‘That’s a very good question. That’s one that we´ll have to see. The hope is that they, over time, will become capable of governing.’

The Palestinians, he said, ‘need to have a fair judicial system … freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions’ before the Palestinian areas can become ‘investable.’

Asked whether he understood why the Palestinians might not trust him, Kushner said: ‘I’m not here to be trusted’ and that he believed the Palestinian people would judge the plan based on whether ‘they think this will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not.’

The Palestinian leadership has refused to deal with the Trump administration since late 2017 when the president decided to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

During his interview with Axios, Kushner was also grilled about his relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Kushner was asked about the crown prince’s alleged role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national who was living in the United States.


Kushner was also evasive when asked about his relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left), especially in light of suspicions that he ordered the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi (right)

Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post. He often used his column to criticize Saudi rulers. 

Khashoggi’s October 2018 murder and dismemberment inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, rocked the U.S.-Saudi relationship as Riyadh officials scrambled to distance bin Salman from the gruesome killing.

Even as Trump refused to back off from his close relationship with Riyadh, his State Department blamed 16 Saudi nationals with ties to the prince for the murder, and barred them from entering the U.S.

Kushner was asked by Axios if he would support efforts by Khashoggi’s fiance to have the Saudi government release the body so that he could be buried.

‘Look, it’s a horrific thing that happened,’ Kushner said.

‘Once we have all the facts, then we’ll make a policy determination, but that would be up to the secretary of state to push on our policy.’ 

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