MONEY, POWER AND CORRUPTION

American Oligarchs” investigates the rise of the Trump and Kushner families to the pinnacle of wealth and power.

Aired on February 12, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THE TRUMPS, THE KUSHNERS, AND THE RISE OF TWO POWER HUNGRY AMERICAN DYNASTIES.

THAT'S THE SUBJECT OF A FASCINATING NEW BOOK, AMERICAN OLIGARCHS.

THE KUSHNERS, THE TRUMPS AND THE MARRIAGE OF MONEY AND POWER.

UNCOVERS HOW BOTH FAMILIES ROSE FROM HUMBLE IMMIGRANT ROOTS TO THE PINNACLE OF POWER AND IMMIGRANTS.

HOW THEY HARNESSED NEW YORK POLITICS AND BUILT THEIR WEALTH ON FEDERAL PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO HELP THE MIDDLE CLASS, OFTEN TO THE EXCLUSION OF BLACKS AND OTHER MINORITIES.

AND IT BRINGS THE STORY TO THE MODERN AGE WHEN THE TWO FAMILIES NOW JOINED BY MARRIAGE WOULD BRING THOSE SAME PRACTICES TO CONSOLIDATE THEIR POWER ON A GLOBAL SCALE.

JOINING US NOW IS AWARD WINNING INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, ANDREA BERNSTEIN WHO FOR DECADES HAS BEEN COVERING THE CONFLUENCE OF MONEY, POWER AND CORRUPTION IN THE WORLD OF BUSINESS OF POLITICS.

ANDREA, WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

IT IS REALLY GREAT TO BE HERE WITH YOU.

SO GREAT.

THIS BOOK IS INTENSE, TO PUT IT MILDLY.

SO FIRST I WANT TO START.

THIS SEEMS TO BE THE ADMINISTRATION THAT HAS SPAWN AD MILLION BOOKS.

SO WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR NARRATIVE THAT YOU FOUND TO BE THE MOST UNIQUE?

WHAT I WANTED TO DO WAS TO TELL NOT THE JUST THE STORY OF WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW AND WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WHITE HOUSE.

BUT TO TELL THE WHOLE MULTIGENERATIONAL SAGA OF THESE TWO FAPS AND HOW THEY CAPE TOGETHER.

IT IS ALSO A STORY ABOUT OUR DEMOCRACY AND THE CHOICES WE HAVE MADE AS A NATION OR NOT MADE THAT HAVE LED TO AN INCREASED INFLUENCE OF WEALTH IN OUR MODERN POLITICS.

MUCH MORE, EVERY DAY, WE SEE MORE INFLUENCE THAN WE DID THE DAY BEFORE.

AND EVEN FOR ME, I MEAN, I'VE COVERED CORRUPTION, PARTICULARLY IN NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY FOR A QUARTER CENTURY.

AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE WHAT IS GOING ON NOW.

SO WHAT I WANTED TO TELL WAS THESE THREE STRANDS BRAIDED TOGETHER.

THE TWO FAMILIES, PLUS US, AND OUR DEMOCRACY AND THE CHOICES WE'VE MADE AND PERHAPS DIFFERENT CHOICES THAT WE CAN MAKE IN THE FUTURE TO CORRECT FOR SOME OF THESE TRENDS.

WELL, I WANT TO ASK ABOUT THE USE OF THE WORD OLIGARCHS.

THAT TENDS TO MAKE MOST PEOPLE THINK OF RUSSIA AND SOME OF THE POLITICAL CORRUPTION THAT WE SEE THERE.

WHY CHOOSE THAT WORD IN THE TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK?

SO IT IS REALLY INTERESTING.

WHEN I CAME ONE THE TITLE, I WASN'T, I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ALL THE RUSSIAN AND UKRAINIAN OLIGARCHS THAT WE WOULD LEARN ABOUT SUBSEQUENTLY THROUGH THE MUELLER REPORT, THROUGH UKRAINE INVESTIGATION.

WHAT I DID UNDERSTAND FUNDAMENTALLY IS THAT IN OUR OWN SOCIETY, THERE IS SUCH A GREATER INFLUENCE BY WE THINKY PEOPLE ON GOVERNMENT.

SO LET ME BACKTRACK A LITTLE BIT.

I THINK ONE OF THE AHA MOMENTS FOR ME, DURING PAUL MANAFORT'S TRIAL, AND THERE WAS A WITNESS THAT WAS PUT ON THE STAND WHO WAS A CONSULTANT THAT WORKED WITH PAUL MANAFORT IN SUPPORT OF THE CORRUPT UKRAINIAN STRONG MAN PRESIDENT.

AND THEY KEPT HIM IN POWER FOR TEN YEARS.

AND THIS WITNESS WAS ASKED, DO YOU KNOW WHO PAID YOU?

AND HE SAID OH, YES, VERY RICH PEOPLE.

THEY CALL THEM OLIGARCHS.

TO ME, THIS WAS SUCH AN AHA MOMENT.

I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, THERE IS NO SUPER PAC, THERE IS NO CAMPAIGN FINANCE COMMITTEE, THE OLIGARCHS JUST PAY FOR THE CONSULTANTS TO GET THE CANDIDATES THEY WANT WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THOSE THE CANDIDATES WILL THEN ENABLE THEM TO KEEP GETTING RICHER AND RICHER AND IT BECOMES A SPIRAL.

SO THEY GET RICHER, THEY CAN SUPPORT THE CANDIDATE THEY LIKE MORE, AND THAT'S WHAT IS HAPPENING IN UKRAINE.

WE'RE NOT THERE YET.

WE STILL HAVE A SYSTEM OF DISCLOSURES, WE STILL HAVE DEMOCRACY.

BUT WE ARE MOVING TOWARD THAT.

AND ONE OF THE BIG REASONS WE'RE MOVING TOWARD THAT IS DONALD TRUMP.

BOTH BECAUSE OF THE WAYS HE BEHAVED AS A BUSINESSMAN AND THE WAY HE BEHAVED AS HAS BEEN BEHAVING AS PRESIDENT.

SO AS A BUSINESSMAN IN NEW YORK, AND I DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE THIS WHEN I STARTED WRITING.

HE REALLY ACTED IN AN OVER GARKIC WAY.

HE GAVE SO MUCH MONEY TO LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS AND EXPECTED SOMETHING IN RETURN.

SO I CALLED MANY, MANY PUBLIC OFFICIALS OVER THE YEARS.

AND I SAID DO YOU KNOW WHY SO AND SO GAVE YOU A DON'T DESTINATION WELL, THEY SUPPORT MY POLITICS.

WITH DONALD TRUMP, WHEN I WOULD CALL PEOPLE, WHEN THEY WERE BEING HONEST, I WOULD SAY DO YOU KNOW WHY DONALD TRUMP GAVE THIS TO YOU?

OH, YES, I KNOW, BECAUSE HE TOLD ME.

HE CALLED ME UP SCREAMING AT ME.

I GAVE YOU A $20,000 CONTRIBUTION.

WHERE'S MY PERMIT?

WHERE'S MY VARIANCE?

WHERE'S MY TAX BREAK, ET CETERA.

SO HE HAD AN EXTREMELY TRANSACTIONAL VIEW OF POLITICS EVEN IN A WORLD WHERE EVERYBODY IN THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY UNDERSTANDS YOU NEED TO CONTRIBUTE TO PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY CONTROL YOUR BUSINESS.

DONALD TRUMP AND HIS FATHER BEFORE HIM WERE OUTLIERS.

SO THEY HAD THIS SAME PRACTICE OF BEING WEALTHY PEOPLE HAD A WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO GOVERNMENT THAT'S THE, WOULD GET BENEFITS IN RETURN.

ONE OF THE TAX BREAKS HE GOT FOR HIS EARLIEST BUSINESS DEALS, I JUST WENT AND CHECKED WITH THE NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE.

IT WAS WORTH $400 MILLION IN TOTAL ON.

IT WAS $400 MILLION.

HE SOLD THE PROPERTY.

THIS WAS WHAT IS NOW THE GRAND HYATT HOTEL.

HE NO LONGER OWNS IT.

BUT HE NEGOTIATED A DEAL FOR A 40-YEAR TAX BREAK THAT THE CITY IS STILL PAYING.

SO HE PRACTICED THIS SESSION OF GIVING A LOT OF MONEY TO THE POLITICIANS, EXPECTING TO GET SOMETHING BACK AND THEN GIVING THEM MORE.

AND THAT IS THE OLIGARCHIC MODEL THAT HE HAS BROUGHT WITH HIM TO THE WHITE HOUSE.

SO IN THE WHITE HOUSE, HE HAS TELEGRAPHED TO VERY WEALTHY PEOPLE.

I AM GOING TO TREAT YOU THE WAY I EXPECTED TO BE TREATED AS A BUSINESSMAN.

HE DOES IT EVERY DAY.

HE DOES IT OPENLY.

PEOPLE WHO PATRONIZE HIS HOTELS, HIS GOLF COURSES, NOT TO MENTION DOING THE OLD-FASHIONED, JUST GIVING TO HIS CAMPAIGN.

GET PREFERENCE TREATMENT.

WE SEE IT, WE HEAR IT, THERE ARE TAPES, HE TWEETS IT OUT.

IF HE DOESN'T LIKE YOU, HE WILL SAY THAT YOU SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.

AND THAT, TOO, IS OLIGARCHIC BEHAVIOR.

SO THE TITLE EVEN MORE THAN I KNEW WHEN I CHOSE IT, WHEN I STARTED THIS BOOK PROJECT TWO YEARS AGO, HAS UNFORTUNATELY MORE NOW.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING WAS THAT YOUR BOOK, NOT ONLY DOES IT NOT PULL ANY PUNCHES.

IT DOESN'T RAE LET ANYONE OFF THE HOOK OF WHAT PEOPLE MIGHT ASSOCIATE WITH THE PRESIDENT, HE IS PART OF THE PROBLEM WITH THE GOP, ET CETERA.

ACTUALLY, NO.

THE WHOLE TIME HE WAS DONATING AND EXPECTING THESE FAVORS FROM BOTH PARTIES.

RIGHT, AND AS A MATTER OF FACT, HE STARTED HIS CAREER BY ESSENTIALLY CONTROLLING THE BROOKLYN DEMOCRATIC BOSSES.

AND THAT'S ONE OF THE MAJOR WAYS THE TRUMP FAMILY REAL ESTATE BUSINESS WAS BUILT.

WAS BY GETTING THE ABATEMENTS, THE FAVORS, THE FEDERAL LOAN PACKAGES WHICH WERE OFTEN CONTROLLED BY PEOPLE CONTROLLED BY THE PARTY.

SO FOR HIM, IT WAS NOT ONLY, IT WAS NOT ONLY NOT REPUBLICAN BUT ACTUALLY DEMOCRAT.

FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.

AND IT IS CERTAINLY THIS SORT OF OVERALL PATTERN OF CONTRIBUTIONS, AS SOMETHING THAT THIS COUNTRY IS DEALING WITH THE TROUBLING CONSEQUENCES OF.

WE JUST PASSED THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CITIZENS UNITED COURT DECISION.

THAT WAS THE DECISION THAT ALLOWED UNLIMITED BASICALLY CORPORATE CONTRIBUTIONS INTO CAMPAIGNS.

AND WE'RE LOOKING WITH THE EFFECTS OF THAT.

AND DONALD TRUMP BENEFITTED FROM THAT WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT, THAT COURT DECISION WAS VERY CONSCIOUSLY FUNDED BY THE COURT CASE.

BY VERY WEALTHY FAMILIES IN AMERICA.

THE DeVOS FAMILY, THE PRINCE FAMILY, RELATED TO BETSY DeVOS OF THE THEY WANTED TO GET RID OF CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AND THEY SUPPORTED THE LAWSUIT AND THEY WON OF THEY BROKE THE SYSTEM ALONG THE WAY.

ONE OF THE SCENES IN THE BOOK, I TALK ABOUT BEING IN OHIO IN 2010.

RIGHT AFTER THE COURT DECISION.

AND THERE ARE SO MANY ADS, AND THE ADS SAY THINGS LIKE, THEY HAVE PICTURES OF PRISON BARS, PICTURES OF BAGS OF CASH, THEY SAY WASHINGTON IS TERRIBLE, YOUR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE CROOKS.

AND IT WAS 24/7.

A NOTICEABLY BIG BOOST IN TELEVISION AIR TIME FROM PREVIOUS CAMPAIGNS I HAD COVERED.

IF YOU'RE A RATIONAL PERSON AND YOU LIVE IN A SWING STATE AND ALL YOU HEAR ALL THE TIME IS THE GOVERNMENT IS STEALING FROM YOU, AND THEN DONALD TRUMP COMES IN AND SAYS, THE GOVERNMENT IS STEALING FROM YOU, I'M GOING TO FIX IT.

THAT WAS AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT HE MADE VERY GOOD USE OF.

NOW, OF COURSE, HE DIDN'T FIX IT.

HE BROKE IT BEYOND RECOGNITION.

BUT HE WAS ABLE TO PLAY UPON THE SYSTEM THAT HAD BEEN BROKEN BY A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT CAME BEFORE HIM.

OF COURSE.

AND WITHOUT GETTING TOO MUCH FURTHER INTO, THAT I DO WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE STORIES OF BOTH THESE MEN.

THESE ARE TWO IMMIGRANT FAMILIES WHICH JUXTAPOSED TO SOME OF THE POLICIES FROM THE ADMINISTRATION MAKES IT INCREDIBLY IRONIC.

BUT LET'S START WITH THE TRUMPS AND THEN OF COURSE, THE KUSHNERS, AN INCREDIBLY HARROWING STORY.

DONALD TRUMP'S GRANDFATHER, FREDERICK TRUMP, IMMIGRATED IN 1885.

A TIME LIKE OUR OWN.

THE GUILDED AGE.

BIG DISPARITIES IN WEALTH.

IT WASN'T JUST THAT PEOPLE WERE WEALTHY.

THEY WANTED EVERYONE TO KNOW IT.

THERE WAS A RESTAURANT IN MANHATTAN, DELMONICO'S WHERE THERE WAS AN ARTIFICIAL LAKE AND SWANS SWIMMING AROUND AND PEOPLE HAD ACTUAL GOLD TOILETS IN THEIR HOMES.

THE BIG MANSIONS BUILT UP AND DOWN THE HUDSON VALLEY.

PEOPLE WERE WEALTHY.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT TIME AND OUR OWN TIME WAS THAT YOU COULD STILL CHANGE YOUR SOCIAL CLASS.

THAT'S WHAT FRIEDERICH TRUMP DID.

HE ARRIVED IN NEW YORK.

HE WORKED AS A BARBER AND THEN HE GOES WEST.

HE ZBEETS THE LOSS THAT I RETALIATED BUSINESS.

FIRST IN SEATTLE, THEN IN THE UCONN.

AND DURING THE LAST NORTH AMERICAN GOAD RUSHERING BUILD AS SERIES OF RESTAURANTS IN THE YUKON CATERING TO THE APPETITES OF THE PROSPECTORS FOR FOOD AND LIQUOR AND ACCESS TO SEX.

AND HE SITUATES HIS RESTAURANTS WHERE THERE WILL BE A LOT OF FOOT TRAFFIC, PEOPLE WILL BE COMING THROUGH.

HE MAKES MONEY.

HE COMES BACK TO NEW YORK AND HE INVESTS IN RESTAURANTS IN QUEENS RIGHT AT THE TIME GOVERNMENT IS GETTING READY TO BUILD A BRIDGE TO QUEENS.

QUEENS, WHICH HAD BEEN CUT OFF FROM MANHATTAN.

IT HAS BECOME MUCH MORE ACCESSIBLE WHICH MEANS LAND WILL BECOME MUCH MORE VALUABLE.

THAT REALLY BECOMES THE TEMPLATE FOR THE TRUMP FAMILY BUSINESS.

THEY UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT JUST THE LAND.

IT IS THE WAY THE GOVERNMENT WILL DO THINGS TO ENHANCE THE VALUE OF THE LAND THAT IS IMPORTANT.

AND THEN THEY BEGIN THE CYCLE, FIRST MOSTLY WITH DONALD TRUMP'S FATHER FRED TRUMP AND THEN DONALD TRUMP.

DONATIONS AND TAX BENEFITS.

AND ONE OF THE STORIES I TELL IN THE BOOK IS ABOUT HOW TRUMP TOWER ON, WHICH WAS, SO THERE IS A TERM MANY REAL ESTATE CALLED TIFFANY LOCATION.

WHICH MEANS THE BEST LOCATION IN THE CITY.

SO TRUMP TOWER WAS BUILT AT THE ACTUAL LOCATION OF TIFFANY'S.

AND YET, DONALD TRUMP WAS ABLE TO ARGUE A COURT CASE THAT HE WAS ENTITLED TO TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAX BREAKS THAT WERE DESIGNED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING.

SO THAT WAS THE TRUMP FAMILY BUSINESS MODEL.

THAT'S HOW THEIR BUSINESS DEVELOPED.

NOW, WHEN TRUMP PASSED THE JOBS ACT, THE TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT OF 2017, IT, BECAUSE IT ALLOWED SO MUCH MORE ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH BY THE VERY WEALTHY AND IN PARTICULAR, BY CORPORATIONS, WHAT IT MEANT WAS THAT THE SOCIAL ELASTICITY THAT HIS GRANDFATHER HAD BENEFITED FROM, FRIEDERICH TRUMP HAD BENEFITED FROM, WAS AVAILABLE TO FEWER AND FEWER PEOPLE.

SO IT IS HARDER TO CHALLENGE YOUR CLASS NOW THAN IT WAS --

DURING THE GILDED AGE.

RIGHT.

TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THE KUSHNERS.

SO THE KUSHNER FAMILY EMIGRATED TO NEW YORK AT A DIFFERENT ANAHEIM OUR HISTORY.

THEY, JARED KUSHNER'S GRANDPARENTS WERE FROM NORTHEASTERN POLAND.

AN AREA INVADED FIRST BY THE SOVIET UNION.

THEN BY THE NAZIS.

AND THERE WAS A, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S MOST TRAGIC IN THE BOOK.

ONE OF THE THINGS I KNOW IS THAT THERE WERE A SERIES OF TESTIMONIES LEFT BY THE SURVIVORS, INCLUDING BY JARED KUSHNER'S GRANDMOTHER.

AND SHE TELLS THE STORY OF LIVING IN POLAND AS A TEENAGER AND THEY HEARD STORIES ABOUT THE NAZIS COMING IN AND KILLING PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN POLAND.

THEY JUST DIDN'T BELIEVE IT.

AND THEN THE NAZIS MARCHED INTO THEIR TOWN AND AT FIRST, IT SEEMED OKAY.

THERE WERE SOME PEOPLE WERE MURDERED BUT THEY TOLD THEMSELVES, WELL, MAYBE IT WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE INSURGENTS OR THEY WERE DOING SOMETHING WRONG.

THOUSANDS AND THEN TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WERE MURDERED.

AND THERE WERE ONLY A FEW HUNDRED OF THEM LEFT.

WHAT THEY DECIDE TO DO IS THEY TAKE BITS OF WOOD, SPOONS, ANYTHING THEY CAN SMUGGLE PAST THE NAZI GUARD AND THEY DIG A TUNNEL PAST THE BARBED WIRE.

IT TAKES THREE MONTHS.

THEY PUT THE BAGS OF DIRT IN THE BECAUSE SO THE NAZIS WILL NOT KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING.

AND THEN ON A RAINY SEPTEMBER NIGHT, THEY CRAWL OUT THROUGH A TWO-FOOT WIDE TUNNEL.

SOME 300 FEET.

MANY OF THEM HE IS CAME TO THE FOREST WHERE THERE IS A BAND OF JEWISH PARTISANS AND THEY STAY THERE THROUGH WAR.

THEY LIVE IN THESE SEMIUNDERGROUND STRUCTURE TLAUS BRUTAL POLISH WINTER.

JARED KUSHNER'S GRANDMOTHER, RAE KUSHNER, HER MOTHER WAS KILLED, HER SISTER WAS KILLED, HER BROTHER WAS KILLED.

THEY GO BACK TO THE TOWN AND IT'S A WASTELAND.

THEY WANT TO GET OUT.

THEY'RE NOW OCCUPIED BY THE SOVIET UNION.

THE SOVIET UNION DOESN'T WANT THEM TO LEAVE.

THEY POSE AS GREEKS AND THEY BOARD A TRAIN.

THEY GET AS FAR AS BUDAPEST.

THAT'S WHERE JARED KUSHNER'S GRANDMOTHER, RAE KUSHNER, MEETS UP WITH A YOUNG MAN SHE HAD KNOWN BEFORE THE WAR AND THEY MARRY AND THEY CONTINUE THEIR JOURNEY SOUTH.

THEY SNEAK AROUND BORDER GUARDS.

THEY WALK ACROSS BORDERS ILLEGALLY.

THEY GET TO A REFUGEE CAMP IN ITALY.

THEY'RE STATELESS.

THEY HAVE NO DOCUMENTS.

NO ONE WANTS TO TAKE THEM IN.

NOT SOUTH AFRICA, NOT THE U.K., NOT THE U.S.

AND WE'VE JUST PASSED THE 75th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF AUSCHWITZ.

BY THIS TIME, AMERICANS KNEW THE EXPERIENCE THAT THE JEWS HAD HAD IN EUROPE.

THERE WERE STILL IMMIGRATION QUOTAS.

SO THEY HIT ON AN IDEA THAT JARED KUSHNER'S GRANDFATHER WILL POSE AS RAE KUSHNER'S FATHER'S SON.

HE CHANGES HIS NAME TO JOE KUSHNER AND THEY GET PAYMENTS OF THEY'RE ABLE TO IMMIGRATE AND THEY TAKE A TWO-WEEK BOAT RIDE AND ARRIVE IN NEW YORK WITH $2 IN THEIR POCKETS.

HE WORKS AS A CARPENTER, HE GETS JOBS, HE BECOMES A BUILDER.

HE BUYS A PLOT OF LAND AND IT IS A GREAT TIME TO BE A BUILDER IN NEW JERSEY.

AFTER THE WAR, ALL THIS FEDERAL MONEY IS GOING INTO LOAN PROGRAMS, ARE TO ROADS SO YOU CAN GET TO SUBURBAN HOUSING.

AND FROM $2 IN HIS POCKET, HE BECOMES A MILLIONAIRE MANY TIMES OVER BY THE TIME HE DIES IN THE 1980s.

AND I THINK THAT'S INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT.

A LOT OF THESE FEDERAL PROGRAMS, AS I SORT OF ALLUDED TO IN THE INTRO, WERE INTENTIONALLY EXCLUDING DEFINITELY AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND OTHERS AS WELL.

SO THAT WAS SOMETHING, WHETHER INTENTIONALLY OR NOT, TO HELP BUILD ON.

BUT ONE OF THE THINGS I FIND SO INTERESTING IS THAT AT LEAF NOW WHEN WE HEAR IMMIGRANT NARRATIVES, WE OPENED THE HEAR STORIES OF EITHER COMMUNITIES OR FAMILIES WANTING TO BRING OTHERS ALONG AND TO HELP.

AND I'M WONDERING, WHAT FROM YOUR RESEARCH IN THE BOOK DID YOU GET TO SEE ABOUT WHAT WERE THE VALUES THAT WERE PASSED DOWN?

BASICALLY, HOW DID WE GET TO THE CHARACTERS WE KNOW TODAY?

WELL, IT IS REALLY COMPLICATED WITH THE HOLOCAUST STORY.

THERE ARE A LOT OF LESSONS TO BE LEARNED.

I THINK A LESSON PEOPLE WOULD ASSUME WOULD BE LEARNED, YOU WOULD BE WARMING AND WELCOMING TO REFUGEES SUCH AS YOURSELF, WE'RE IN AN ADMINISTRATION WHERE NOT ONLY ARE IMMIGRANTS BEING KEPT OUT BUT EVEN REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT IS AT MODERN HISTORIC LOWS.

BUT THERE IS ANOTHER STRAIN THAT COMES FROM PEOPLE WHO SURVIVE THE HOLOCAUST.

A SENSE THAT I MUST PROTECT MYSELF AND MY FAMILY AT ALL COSTS.

? ALSO SOMETHING WE SEE A LOT IN BOTH JARED KUSHNER AND HIS FATHER CHARLIE KUSHNER, IS THE SENSE THAT RULES ARE FOR OTHER PEOPLE.

IF YOU WERE LIVING UNDER THE NAZIS, YOU WERE CONSTANTLY HAVING TO DEFY THE AUTHORITIES JUST TO LIVE.

BUT THAT IS ANOTHER LESSON THAT HAS CAN TRACKED THROUGH THE GENERATIONS.

NOW, I WANT TO SAY THAT THESE ARE, I MEAN, JOE AND RAE KUSHNER HAD FOUR CHILDREN.

THERE WAS A SPLIT IN THE FAMILY AND SOME OF JARED KUSHNER'S COUSINS HAVE MADE DIFFERENT CHOICES IN THEIR LIVES.

SO ONE OF THE THINGS I WANTED TO POINT OUT IN THE BOOK, WHILE THESE FAMILIES EMBLEMATIC, THEY'RE NOT TYPICAL.

AND THEY MADE CHOICES.

AND ONE OF THE THINGS I WANTED TO DO IN AMERICAN OLIGARCHS WAS TO THE TRACE CHOICES THESE SPECIFIC FAMILIES MADE.

BECAUSE IF ONE THINKS THOSE ARE NOT THE CORRECT CHOICES, AND I SHOW WHERE THE CHOICES WERE MADE, THERE IS A SENSE OF, OKAY, WELL, THERE IS POWER IN UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED HERE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR A GREAT BOOK, FOR A FABULOUS PODCAST, AND YEAH.

I REALLY CANNOT HE SAID IF A SIZE ENOUGH HOW MANY OF A FASCINATING READ AND A BETTER UNDERSTANDING YOU GAVE ME OF THESE TWO FAMILIES.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

IT'S GREAT TO SPEAK WITH YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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