Jared Kushner says President Donald Trump is "absolutely not" a bigot or a racist

Kushner struggled to answer questions about allegations of racism facing Trump while being interviewed by Axios

By Matthew Rozsa

Published June 3, 2019 9:11AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Spencer Platt)
(Getty/Spencer Platt)

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and White senior adviser, Jared Kushner, struggled to answer questions about allegations of racism facing the commander-in-chief while being interviewed by "Axios on HBO."

"The answer is no — absolutely not," Kushner said when asked by Axios reporter Jonathan Swan if he believed the president was a racist. "You can't not be a racist for 69 years, and then run for president and be a racist. And what I'll say is that 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."

When Swan asked Kushner if he thought Trump's past support of birtherism, the debunked and racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama, America's first black president, was not born in the U.S. and was thus ineligible to serve — he was actually born in Hawaii — Kushner reportedly appeared to be flustered.

He replied, "Look, I wasn't really involved in that."

After Swan pushed a little harder, Kushner repeated, "Like I said, I wasn't involved in that."

Following further prodding, Kushner said, "Look, I know who the president is — and I have not seen anything in him that is racist. So again, I was not involved in that."

Swan asked a similar question about Trump's support of a ban on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, probing Kushner as to whether he thought the policy was bigoted.

"Look, I think that the president did his campaign in the way that he did his campaign," Kushner replied before later adding, "I think he's here today, and I think he's doing a lot of great things for the country — and that's what I'm proud of."

Kushner also struggled to answer pointed questions about abortion rights and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When Swan asked Kushner about his views on abortion, the senior Trump adviser said, "I’m here to enforce his positions. His position is the one that as a staffer in the White House, we’ll work to push."

Kushner also refused to say whether the Palestinians could govern themselves without Israeli oversight.

"I think there are some things that the current Palestinian government has done well, and there are some things that are lacking," Kushner explained. "And I do think that in order for the area to be investable, for investors to come in and want to invest in different industries and infrastructure and create jobs, you do need to have a fair judicial system, freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions and so . . ."

Swan interrupted to ask, "Can they have freedom from any Israeli government or military interference?"

Kushner replied, "I think that it’s a high bar."

Kushner later followed up his earlier response with an odd reply about "technocrats."

"There’s a difference between the technocrats and there’s a difference between the people," Kushner explained. "The technocrats are focused on very technocratic things, and when I speak to Palestinian people, what they want is they want the opportunity to live a better life. They want the opportunity to pay their mortgage, to have . . . "

After Swan asked whether Kushner believes the Palestinians want their own state, he replied, "I think that they want an opportunity."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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