IIn a packed conference room on the fourth floor of an office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House, an alternate version of Washington played out Monday in which Donald Trump’s legacy is not complicated by his hoarding of classified documents or his refusal to acknowledge losing the election and fomenting a violent siege of Congress.
At box lunches and embossed folders filled with policy documents, a group of the former president’s foreign policy advisers gathered to mark two years since the launch of the Abraham Accords, an initiative to improve economic and diplomatic ties between Israel and a handful of Arab states and easing decades of antagonism over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a close adviser during the Trump administration, spoke on stage about how he supported efforts to persuade countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco to formalize diplomatic ties with Israel and ease trade barriers. Dozens of copies of Breakthrough story Kushner’s recently published book about his time in the Trump White House was displayed on a table outside the room.
The event was hosted by the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), a think tank founded by former Trump administration officials to I encourage domestic and foreign policy ideas from the Trump administration so they can be pushed by a Trump-aligned Congress or a future administration.
As Kushner praised the Trump administration’s work in the Middle East, he did not touch on the subject multiple investigations in the former president, including that Trump took thousands of pages of sensitive government documents with him to Florida when he left the White House; or the scrutiny he continues to face because of his allies’ efforts to create fake voter rolls to overturn legitimate election results; or the committee’s ongoing work since Jan. 6, which is investigating Trump’s role in efforts to forcefully stop the Electoral College vote count so Trump can stay in office. Late Monday, New York times reported that the Justice Department had issued about 40 subpoenas in the past week seeking information about the actions of Trump and his associates related to the 2020 election and the Capitol attack.
Kushner’s appearance coincided with a wave of speculation about why Trump had arrived unannounced in the Washington area on Sunday night, with some of Trump’s critics suggesting the seemingly sudden visit was a sign of worsening legal problems. Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social on Monday that he was in the area “working” at the golf club he owns in Virginia. “I’m working today at Trump in Washington on the Potomac River. What an amazing place!” Trump wrote.
Kushner described the investigations into Russian election meddling and Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden as distractions from the work he was trying to do.
“I wrote in the book a lot about the investigations and the attacks and what it’s like to be in that environment,” Kushner said. “In Washington, it’s kind of a time game, in the sense that you have to get everything you can while you have the chance, and the other side is doing everything they can to frustrate you, to attack you, to stop you.”
“You have to figure out how to keep your eye on the prize and get there,” he added.
Kushner’s speech and the panel discussion that followed were part of a broader effort to continue the Trump administration’s policy goals even if Trump himself does not win back the presidency, said Mark Lawter, AFPI spokesman and director of strategic communications for the Trump 2020 campaign. The institute’s work is designed to “highlight the successes we’ve had, but also set the stage for the next America First administration and/or leadership, whether that’s in Congress or hopefully also in the White House,” Lotter says. “We are laying the groundwork for any candidate who wants to take up the mantle of ‘America First.’
Kushner complained that the Abraham Accords did not formally bring in more Muslim countries, even though the Biden administration largely embraced themone of the few policy areas where Biden has not worked to reverse the previous administration’s achievements.
Although Trump did not attend his son-in-law’s speech, the former president was still a topic of conversation. During a panel discussion following Kushner’s remarks, Robert O’Brien, Trump’s last national security adviser, recalled telling Trump that the work he had done in the Middle East and other regions would make him remembered as a “peacemaker “. O’Brien repeated this to Trump on Trump’s last day in office, weeks after Trump encouraged an armed mob to march on the Capitol. O’Brien said he was one of the people who said goodbye to Trump when he left the White House on Jan. 20, 2021. At that point, O’Brien again brought up his line that Trump is known as a “peacemaker.” “Remember when I said that? O’Brien recalled. “He said, ‘Well, you might be right.
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