- Jared Kushner said Tuesday that the president was surrounded by "cocky idiots" from his 2016 campaign and that it "took a while to figure out" which ones were loyal to him and his agenda.
- Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, initially told journalist Bob Woodward that the President's "most dangerous" advisors were "cocky idiots" and that Trump "got rid of" many of them.
- Woodward reported that Kushner was referring to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and former economic adviser Gary Cohn, but Kushner denied this.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior White House advisor, said Tuesday that the president was surrounded by "cocky idiots" on his 2016 campaign and that it "took him a while to figure out" which of his aides were true to him and his agenda.
Kushner first told journalist Bob Woodward that the President's "most dangerous" advisors were "cocky idiots" and that Trump "got rid of" many of them. Woodward wrote in his new book, "Rage," that Kushner was referring to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.
But in a Tuesday interview On NBC News' The Today Show on Tuesday, Kushner said he was not referring to Mattis, Tillerson and Cohn, and he declined to say who he was criticizing.
"He's actually wrongly characterizing who I was referring to," Kushner said of Woodward. "Obviously we had some people from the campaign who obviously always tried to tell the president with confidence without the real facts."
He continued, "When we got to Washington, President Trump had never done this before, and I think it took him a while to figure out who the right people were that he wanted to be around in his administration, however I think over time he really figured out who was with him, who wasn't on his agenda. "
Kushner also told Woodward that in the early days of the administration, the vast majority of Trump's aides believed the president was destructive and dangerous.
"In the beginning, 20 percent of people thought we thought Trump would save the world and 80 percent thought they would save the world from Trump," Kushner said. "Well, I think we have the opposite."
The president's 39-year-old son-in-law, who had no experience in government, politics or foreign affairs before becoming one of Trump's most powerful advisers, described how the president challenged his aides by suggesting extreme answers to various questions.
“He's not going to say,“ Let me go with a nuanced position. ”He's going to say in a meeting,“ What if we make 100? ”They'll say,“ Oh, you can't . "And then he'll say," Well, what if we go zero? "It's like, holy man. It's whiplash," Kushner said. "This is how he reads people to see how sure they are of their position: Are you holding yourself? Are you bending over? So that's just his style."
He added, "By the way, that's why the most dangerous people around the President are cocky idiots."