One of the Trump administration’s biggest successes — and a win the far-left loves to ignore — was finding peace in the Middle East. And Jared Kushner, Former Senior Advisor to President Trump, played an integral role in it all. He joins Glenn to detail how he helped Trump ‘crack the code’ regarding the Middle East, the tactics used that were ‘contrary to conventional wisdom,’ and the one question he asked world leaders that helped the progress begin...
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: Do you remember this from Saturday Night Live?
VOICE: I was sitting in my little Kushball. Jared Kushner.
Yeah, unbelievable.(applauding)(laughter)Jared, I've sent you all around the world to represent me. But no one has ever heard you speak. You're like a little Jewish homily.
GLENN: You know what's amazing, in the time, that guy went on to shoot somebody on the set and to kill him. Alec Baldwin, which I didn't see coming. And also, I don't think people saw coming, the Abrahamic Accords. Jared Kushner joins us now. And his -- and his new book, that is out breaking history. A White House memoir. Hello, Jared. How are you?
JARED: Doing great. Thank you for having me, and thank you for reminding me of that. That SNL skit, that was quite funny.
GLENN: I mean, they really hammered you. At one point, they put you in little short pants.
And I don't know about you. I think you've -- based on that response, feel the same way. When they first started mocking me on Saturday Night Live.
I thought, wow. I've made it somehow or another. Even if they're making fun of you.
That's great. Even better. But how everybody said, Jared Kushner, how could you possibly send him to the Middle East?
We've been trying to crack this code for 80 years now.
And yet, you did. Can you talk a little bit about what you write about in the book. About how you crack that?
JARED: Sure. Well, first of all, it was definitely a challenge, that when we got involved. I don't know. Maybe they thought I couldn't make it any worse, than all the professionals who had worked on it for decades before.
But what I did was I went there. And I write about this extensively in my book. About how my first year was spent listening. I was meeting with all the listeners. I was asking them questions. Which actually had a hard time processing at first. Because they were so used to not having these questions asked, which is America has so much power, to influence things. And we've done some things that actually have made this reach knew-in so much worse.
If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing?
And finally, it got to really interesting conversations. And I listened to everyone's point of view.
And I really realized that pieces about the future, and that you have to get people to focus on their joint interests. Let's put everyone on the same side of the table.
And then there were certain patterns that became very clear to me, that were contrary to what all the conventional wisdom was.
And there was one example I give in the book, where I was meeting with one of the great foreign policy academics, who is well respected.
And I played out for him my approach.
And I said to him, well, do you think I have a chance of succeeding? And he said, absolutely not. I said, why so negative?
He said, Jared, nobody has made any money betting on success in the Middle East in the last 25 years. So I like that you're bringing new ideas, but you just have no chance of being successful.
But ultimately, I think by building strong relationships, by thinking outside the box.
Again, I write a lot in this book about President Trump and my interactions with him, and my interactions with all the world leaders.
We took a fresh approach. We tried to be empirical. We tried to be pragmatic. We saw things for what they were. And again, we were ruthlessly criticized for the approach we took in the Middle East, up until it worked
GLENN: So in the book, you talked about David Friedman, and he's a bankruptcy lawyer in Manhattan.
And he suggested, and you guys decided to use -- to look at the Israeli Palestinian conflict, like a bankruptcy.
So can you explain that? And is it that you guys were not council of foreign relations. Years and years of the State Department, that you came from a business background, and had a totally fresh set of eyes?
JARED: So you have to always look at a situation, and put yourself in the other people's shoes, and try to figure out what are the fulcrum components that are driving a situation. So when we look at the situation. You know, you couldn't equate the Israelis and the Palestinians. One was a democracy, and one was a kleptocracy.
One had a super powerful military, one was basically just kind of a -- it was -- it was kind of a con job, at some point. And so we saw it for what it was. And we weren't trying to be balanced. We were trying to be honest. And I think that really -- really was distorting for a lot of people. So we saw that the whole Palestinian situation was, I think, billions of dollars of aid. It was never conditions based. And we basically said, like US foreign aid is not entitlement.
If we're going to give you this money, we want to see certain things happen. So we worked very hard over a couple of years, to do certain things. And, again, I give President Trump tremendous credit for what he did. Because when he moved the embassy, I take people into the situation room, and how he had opposition from Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense. The Intel community said World War III would occur.
And what he basically did was he calibrated all the different advice. He made a very measured decision, decided to go forward with it, despite the advice of everyone, that it would cause war.
He tasked me with reaching out to all the different leaders and saying, look, don't -- you can't cherry-pick your relationship with America. We're helping you with Iran. We're helping you with military. We're helping you with economy.
You know, don't mess around with this. So he made the decision. Everyone said the world was going to end. And what happened the next morning, the sun rose. The next evening, the sun set.
And the light moved on, and it was done.
And the same thing happened with the Iran Deal. So President Trump was starting to realize, that certain variables that people thought were fixed were fluid. And I give many examples in the book of these interactions, and how we moved around all these different elements, in order to create the opportunity for people to see the Israeli-Palestinian issue for what it really was.
And to see that it was really about leadership, trying to stay in power, so they could maintain the flow of funds, they had. And they had no interest of making the lives of their people better. I believe the job of a leader is to number one keep their people safe. And to number two, give them an environment where they can have opportunity to better their lives and their children's lives, and have hope and excitement for the future. And the Palestinian leadership was not doing that.
GLENN: So in your book, we're talking to Jared Kushner, in his book, Breaking History: A White House Memoir. You talk about one of the things that you were doing. And totally makes sense. You united the Middle East, because you recognized the common foe was Iran. And that kind of brought people together. And -- and when your dad, or when your father-in-law, the president, got out of Iran -- you know, the stupid, dangerous Iran peace deal. That made a difference.
How much of a role did that play? And what does it mean, that we are sitting down at the table with Iran now?
JARED: So the first deal in 2014 was probably the worst transactions, ever done. Maybe in the history of diplomacy.
And it just made absolutely no sense. Iran was on a glide path to a nuclear weapon.
They had gotten $150 billion in funds, that were basically now, they were using to -- to fund Hezbollah, Hamas, all these different people.
They were chanting death to America, death to Israel. It made absolutely no sense. But what it did, it kind of scared the Cochran of all of the Arab countries, to say, okay. This could be that bad. Actually, when we got there, they were starting to rebuild their relationship with China. And saying, look, when America went and did the deal with Persia, we were thinking, we had to teach our kids Chinese, because America was not dependable anymore. And we said, wait, guys.
Wait -- wait a minute. Calm down here. These -- these relationships that we've had with you guys have been long-standing many, many decades. We agree what happened here was terrible. But let's figure out a rational policy. What we did was we reimposed sanctions on Iran, we took their oil exports down from 2.6 million barrels a day to 100,000.
JARED: We really dissected their economy. And we -- we -- there were data foreign currency reserves, and we stopped. And what Trump said about Iran, is that they never won a war, but they never lost a negotiation.
So he figured out how to really create a better condition than what we inherited. And we really tried to give the incoming administration a much stronger hand, which was only buttressed that we had Iraq much more stable than what we got there. ISIS caliphate was eliminated.
And now we had the Abraham Accords. So all the way from Haifa, our goal was to try to create a place of security from Haifa to Muscat in Oman, and then get economic activity between it all, to basically show the Iranian people that there would be the opportunity for you to live a better life, if you joined into this. So instead of falling -- again, we had six peace deals in the last six months. I wrote about how we made those occur, instead, the administration runs and goes back to Iran on their knees, begging to make the old stupid deal.
And so it makes no sense to me. But, again, I think what you'll see in this book, is that we came with an outsider's perspective. We tried to bring common sense. And, again, we really broke the mold on a lot of issues, and did things contrary to what people, who were the conventional thinkers in Washington did. And why they did those things, decades before it got there. I didn't understand why they were going back to some of those things. Now that we've seen that those policies that were different now, are working. It makes absolutely no sense.
GLENN: We are going to be short on time. So I -- there's so many questions, I would like to ask you. For instance, you know if you would have thrown in bad stuff about President Trump, you would have made a fortune. And the left would have loved you, and left you alone.
And you didn't do it. Congratulations.
JARED: Yeah. I learned that the love of the left is something that is -- it's not worth what people think it is. I see people contorting themselves and saying certain things that they don't believe. Or not saying things that they don't believe. But the left has no loyalty. They turn on you in a second. And I think it's knew better to say the truth. And look, I do think that being in the White House, I saw so much information asymmetry, in terms of how we recovered and what we did. But, again, there was two currents in this book, that I tried to capture happening at the same time. One that we were under relentless attacks being accused of collusion with Russia, and treason. And then, you know, impeached for trying to investigate corruption in Ukraine. And attacked by the media.
And I tried to show what it was like, living through all that. But also getting all these things done. What President Trump, in office, we had inflation was low. Gas prices were low. Wages were rising. The wealth gap was shrinking. We had peace in Europe. We had peace in China. We were making great deals. We had them on their back foot. And it didn't all happen by accident. So I tried to take people inside the room. And the treaty deals. And negotiations with President Putin.
The negotiations with King Salman, the negotiations with President Xi. And how Trump used his unusual style, in order to achieve these outcomes. And at the end of the day, I find a lot of my friends, on the left, they hyper ventilate over different things that Trump will say. Or how they perceive it. But I think that results matter. And I want people to understand how those results were achieved. And it's been very disheartening for me to watch how, again, you put the government bureaucrats back in charge. And inflation is rising. We have a war in Europe. China is, you know, being provocative with Taiwan.
North Korea is firing off weapons. I write about how Trump was able to create the relationship with Kim Jong-un. And going to the DMZ. How he walked into North Korea. Nobody knows how that came about. And how it almost didn't happen, many, many times. So I wanted people to really understand, how he did the things. And why him being the way he is, empowered by -- and working with the right people around him, enabled him to accomplish so much.
GLENN: Your book is fascinating. And it -- and it -- I mean, it really is a thriller. All of the things you just laid out, it is -- it's a thriller.
Let me ask you one thing: Because there was parts of the book, that get very, very personal.
And one of my favorite parts is when you talk about your grandma. We've only got about two minutes. Your grandmother was 16 when the Nazis invaded Poland. Your family went from ghettos to mansions in three generations. Which is remarkable.
Can you talk a little bit about what your grandmother went through? And how that affected you with the Abrahamic Accords.
GLENN: Sure. So my grandparents were both in Belarus. And then the Nazis came in. My grandmother I write about how, in her town, they took a 50th of the educated Jews. They shot them in the head, the Nazis, and then they made the young women. Like my grandmother, clean the blood off of the stones. While they had other Jews playing instruments, to -- to celebrate it. It was a brutal experience. They joined the resistance fighters. The Woods. Out of a town of 10,000, 250 that escaped. And then ultimately, they got married in Hungary. They came over to America on a boat. I read about how my grandfather went to New Jersey. He was a carpenter.
He said he was afraid of heights, so he couldn't work in the buildings in Brooklyn. So they said, go to New Jersey. They have shorter buildings there. And it's just an amazing American story. And so I try to take people through that very quickly.
But I'll say that for me, you know, again, what I saw working in the White House, going from, you know, the son of a refugee. The grandson of refugees. Is that America is an absolute amazing country. It's plagued with incredible opportunity. We have amazing people. And what president tried to do with the administration, was to allow for the American dream to be prevalent, allow it for it to be deep, to give everyone an equal opportunity.
And I think that's what our policies do. For me to be able to work on the Abraham Accords, as a grandchild of Holocaust survivors. And I talk about my interactions with the Germans. Where I was actually disappointed that the lack of enthusiasm, and the lack of -- of engagement that they had with us, given that, you know, the whole plight that we still have in the Middle East. I explain how it really is a remnant of the post World War II anti-Semitism that existed. Because of the Holocaust. And because of the Nazis.
And so I just think that it was an amazing honor to do it. And it is an extraordinary story. And I really -- you know, I believe has his hand in everything we do. I am very, very -- big believer in that. And just very, very grateful for all these experiences.
GLENN: I agree.
JARED: And again, a lot of it was very difficult. I write in the first year about how I had to adjust, I was surrounded by a lot of complicated people. But I go through the lessons I learned. And I was trying to give people who never served in Washington, who -- who obviously have followed the Trump administration. Who followed politics. A real insight to what it was like to serve in Washington. What it was like to work in the White House. And what it's like to navigate. And all the lessons I learned. So that hopefully, businessmen will -- will continue to go and serve in government so we don't have the career political class that often is trying to keep power as opposed to making people's lives better.
GLENN: Jared Kushner, the name of the book is breaking history. If you don't know, where have you been? He was a former senior adviser to President Trump. And this book is really a thriller to see from the inside. What was going on. And how they did the things that they did.
By the way, you were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Please tell me you don't lose it to Greta Thunberg or --
JARED: No. I lost it to a journalist who nobody has ever heard of. But I guess I -- I guess they created more peace than we did.
GLENN: Yeah. Yeah. It's crazy.
JARED: You know, it's -- the peace is the prize. And I see every day -- you know, people send me pictures of Israeli fruit being sold in Emirati supermarkets, or new flights or new business deals being done.
GLENN: That's great.
JARED: And really reuniting Israelis and Muslims. It's just -- Jews and Muslims in the Middle East. It's such a beautiful thing. So the dividends from this, is staying forever, in terms of the positivity that it unleashed.
GLENN: Well, I think it was truly a miracle. I agree with you. God was in the center of that, and I can't thank you enough. Jared Kushner. Author of the book, Breaking History.
JARED: Oh, thank you so much.
GLENN: All right.