Former Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told The Washington Times that Donald Trump’s expected White House bid in 2024, and a possible new Trump administration, should not include son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Mrs. Conway, who managed Mr. Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016, said Mr. Kushner is trying to “wash his hands” of responsibility for the election loss in 2020 while reaping billions of dollars in business ventures from his status as a relative of the former president.
“There’s nobody who’s profited more handsomely from Donald Trump’s presidency than Jared Kushner,” Mrs. Conway said Wednesday in an online interview with Washington Times Opinion Editor Charles Hurt and Commentary Editor Kelly Sadler. “If you believe the news reports … he’s gotten billions of dollars for his [investment] fund.”
Mr. Kushner has formed a private equity firm that reportedly received a $2 billion investment from the Saudi kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund. He was largely absent from the post-2020 election challenges, opting to devote his attention to an attempted peace deal in the Middle East.
In the interview, Mrs. Conway said Mr. Trump will be “unstoppable” in a 2024 bid for the White House if he campaigns on his winning themes of 2016 instead of on grievance over his loss to President Biden. She said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seen as the biggest threat to Mr. Trump’s Republican Party nomination in 2024, hasn’t been tested in the national spotlight.
In the midst of a tour to promote her new memoir, “Here’s the Deal,” Mrs. Conway has dished out criticism of Trump advisers who she said “wasted” the president’s $1.4 billion campaign war chest in 2020. Chief among her targets is Mr. Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump, who served as a top White House adviser for four years.
Mocking reports that Mr. Kushner is “done” with politics, Mrs. Conway said, “That’s a convenient way of saying, ‘Don’t hold me accountable for all the authority I gave myself.’
“It’s become incredibly convenient for Jared to not be given responsibility for that 2020 debacle of a campaign, to not take responsibility for, frankly, not being there for his father-in-law now the way that he insisted on being there for five straight years until things didn’t really work out,” she said. “Jared should not work in the White House.”
The Times requested a comment from Mr. Kushner but did not hear back.
Mrs. Conway, who says the media credited Mr. Kushner in 2020 with becoming “de facto chief of staff” and “de facto campaign manager,” noted with derision that Mr. Kushner has a book that will be released.
“It talks about all the great things he did as president — I mean, as senior adviser to President Trump,” she said.
Referring to the 2020 campaign, Mrs. Conway said, “The people who are responsible for wasting the $1.4 billion and not getting the job done, we have not held them to account.”
Turning to a likely Trump presidential bid in 2024, Mrs. Conway said Mr. Trump is “sad and frustrated” with the direction of the nation under Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“In less time than it takes to have a baby, Biden and Harris have ruined this country with the energy economy and the deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan. The list goes on and on,” Mrs. Conway said. “So [Mr. Trump] is with America when he says, ‘I want to make a change here.’”
She said, “The second reason he wants to run is because Donald Trump is uniquely positioned to say, ‘I can do it because I already did it.’”
Mr. Trump hasn’t announced his intentions, but Mrs. Conway, who speaks with him regularly, acknowledged recent press reports that the former president is considering declaring his candidacy for 2024 sooner rather than later. She said she urged him to focus on the kind of “America First” campaign that won him the presidency in 2016 when she served as his campaign manager.
“If President Trump wants to run in 2024, and he does … he should just look forward and project a vision forward, go to the future and recognize that every great presidential candidate, including him in 2016, has that vision of looking forward and reflects the people’s grievances, not his own grievances, the people’s grievances — their economic, their anxiety and uncertainty, their feeling of … uncertainty and chaos and crisis everywhere we look, and reflect to them that he is the guy who will come and mitigate if not eliminate all of that,” she said.
“I like vintage Trump 2015-2016, that joy on the job, the rallies, connecting to people,” she said.
Mrs. Conway said the well-known phrases of the 2016 Trump campaign such as “Build that wall” and themes such as cutting taxes and regulations would prove to be a winning message again compared with the bumbling and the soaring inflation under Mr. Biden.
“All of that [Trump agenda] was so compelling, and people understood exactly why he was running and what they would get,” she said. “A combination of vintage Trump with those amazing accomplishments in 2020, he can be unstoppable in 2024.”
Mr. DeSantis is often mentioned as a possible rival to Mr. Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. Mrs. Conway said Mr. DeSantis is an “unbelievably strong” governor but wouldn’t have been elected without Mr. Trump’s support against a relatively weak Democratic opponent in 2018.
She issued a warning of sorts to Republican donors that Mr. DeSantis is untested on the national stage.
“He obviously is highly favored by donors and grassroots,” Mrs. Conway said. “But I will say this: I love the donors. They’re very successful people in life. They’re often wrong about who’s next. People say, ‘I want DeSantis,’ and they don’t know him that well. And they have to realize that whether it’s DeSantis or Joe Blow or Donald Trump or Charlie Hurt, if you have an ‘R’ after your name, they’re coming for you. So what everybody thinks is unconquerable and indomitable and electable, the media and the hard left, they will tear that person apart. And we don’t know what people are made of until they’re put into that arena.”
A spokesperson for Mr. DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment.
She clearly believes that Mr. Trump would be making a mistake to campaign in 2024 on the election having been stolen from him in 2020, although she believes the election wasn’t fair.
“I don’t talk about theft and fraud,” she said. “His team had plenty of time to produce the evidence. They failed to. The electors certified those election results on Dec. 14. And then other people had the idea to blow through that and have another fifth bite at the apple on Jan. 6. I knew nothing about that ahead of time. I’m still in shock, not in awe.”
She said Democrats and the media are focused too much on the pro-Trump riot of Jan. 6, 2021.
“We’ve got to move on and look forward,” she said. “People are suffering right now.”