In an interview with Axios on HBO, President Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner refused to say whether he believes the birther movement spearheaded by Trump was racist.
During a deeply awkward exchange, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan pressed Kushner on Trump’s involvement in pushing the conspiracy theory that former President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. Kushner refused to say whether or not he believed the conspiracy was racist, or whether he wished Trump had never been involved.
The exchange began when Swan asks Kushner how he felt about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (and many others) assertion that Trump is a racist.
“Have you ever seen [Trump] say or do anything you would describe as racist or bigoted?” Swan asks Kushner.
“The answer is no, absolutely not,” Kushner replies. “You can’t not be a racist for 69 years then run for president and be a racist... 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.”
Of course, the idea that the man who took out a full page New York Times ad to further a narrative framing five black teenagers for rape has never been racist is pretty hard to buy. But even when presented with more recent proof of his father-in-law’s racism, Kushner just can’t bring himself to say it.
“Was birtherism racist?” Swan asks.
“Um, look, I wasn’t really involved in that,” Kushner says, looking pained.
“I know you weren’t,” Swan replies. “Was it racist?”
Nearly this exact same exchange then repeats. This time, Kushner responds, “Look, I know who the president is and I haven’t seen anything in him that I believe is racist.”
“Did you wish he didn’t do that?” Swan follows up.
“Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that, it was a long time ago,” Kushner responds. If you consider 2014 a long time ago then, yeah, sure.
Swan then asks Kushner about Trump’s promises to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and Kushner similarly refuses to say that those promises were either racist or not racist. Hitting it out of the park, dude!
“I think he is here today and I think he’s doing a lot of great things for the country,” Kushner says, looking like he wants to die. A stirring endorsement!
Elsewhere in the interview, Kushner dodges questions about whether Saudi Arabia and his friend Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman should be held responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and deflects other questions on the record-low number of refugees the U.S. is currently taking.
A stunningly cowardly job all around. Watch the clip here.