Jared Kushner says Trump was surrounded by ‘overconfident idiots’ from his 2016 campaign and it ‘took him a while to figure out’ who was loyal to him

Trump Kushner 2019
President Trump and Jared Kushner during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
  • Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that the president was surrounded by "overconfident idiots" from his 2016 campaign and that it "took him a while to figure out" which were loyal to him and his agenda. 
  • Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a top White House adviser, first told journalist Bob Woodward that the president's "most dangerous" advisers were "overconfident idiots" and that Trump had "gotten rid of" many of them.
  • Woodward reported that Kushner was referring to former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and former economic adviser Gary Cohn, but Kushner denied that. 
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Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and top White House adviser, said on Tuesday that the president was surrounded by "overconfident idiots" on his 2016 campaign and that it "took him a while to figure out" which of his aides were loyal to him and his agenda. 

Kushner first told journalist Bob Woodward that the president's "most dangerous" advisers were "overconfident idiots" and that Trump had "gotten rid of" many of them. Woodward wrote in his new book, "Rage," that Kushner was referring to former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn. 

But in a Tuesday interview with NBC News' "The Today Show" on Tuesday, Kushner said he wasn't referring to Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn, and he declined to say whom he was criticizing. 

"He actually mischaracterizes who I was referring to," Kushner said of Woodward. "Obviously we had some people from the campaign who were in there who were obviously always trying to tell the president with confidence without the real facts." 

He went on, "When we got to Washington, President Trump had never done this before and I think it took him a while to figure out who were the right people that he wanted to have around him in his administration, but I think over time he's really figured out who was with him, who was not on his agenda."

Kushner also told Woodward that in the early days of the administration the vast majority of Trump's aides thought the president was destructive and dangerous. 

"In the beginning, 20 percent of the people we had thought Trump was saving the world, and 80 percent thought they were saving the world from Trump," Kushner said. "Now, I think we have the inverse."

The president's 39-year-old son-in-law, who had no government, policy, or foreign affairs experience before becoming one of Trump's most powerful advisers, described how the president challenged his aides by suggesting extreme responses to various issues. 

"He won't say, 'Let me go wth a nuanced position.' He'll, in a meeting , say, 'Well, what if we do 100?' They'll say, 'Oh, you can't do that.' And then, he'll say, 'Well, what if we do zero?' It's like, holy s--t. It's whiplash," Kushner said. "So that's his way of reading people, is to see how certain are they of their position: Do they hold their ground? Do they buckle? So that's just his style." 

He added, "And by the way, that's why the most dangerous people around the president are overconfident idiots." 

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