To report this story, I spoke to West Wing advisers, personal friends, and various other associates of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Surprised to find themselves in Washington to begin with, the couple has undergone a serial transformation. First, they were awestruck by the seeming power of their new positions, and approached Washington as one giant research project, setting up meetings and phone calls with experts in the areas that interested them. It was as if the entirety of Washington’s expertise was laid out in one giant smorgasbord. For Kushner, this approach was a continuation of one he had adopted during the campaign, and one that came with some peril, as he would later discover. When I asked a longtime associate how Jared and Ivanka felt about their time in Washington, the first word uttered was “sacrificial.”
It’s clear that, after an initial period of awe at the sheer power of their positions, Jared and Ivanka have been stung by the vitriol directed at them. But, as Ivanka has been known to tell her six-year-old daughter, Arabella, “for every problem, there is a solution.” For Kushner and Ivanka, the solution has been to fight back: against New York friends who disapprove of them, against West Wing foes, and even against the president himself. Increasingly you hear chatter in Washington that Jared and Ivanka won’t last, not because they are at risk of being pushed out, but because they will save themselves from a damaged White House. One well-connected strategist in New York told me that the two were eyeing a move at the end of the school year in 2018. A person close to the couple said they weren’t planning that far ahead. “When they decide it’s more important to protect their own and their children’s reputations than it is to defend their indefensible father’s, that’s a sign the end is near,” one influential Republican donor told me.