Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner step off Air Force One on September 15, 2017.
By Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.
If the mood in Trumpworld was gloomy, there was no sign of discontent Saturday night, as the president and first lady strode into the gilded lobby of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. A day earlier, CNN had reported that a federal grand jury had approved the first indictments in the Russia investigation, and that anyone charged would likely be taken into custody as soon as Monday. But in the Old Post Office building, just blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, the atmosphere was decidedly celebratory. Donald and Melania Trump arrived, around 8 p.m., to a round of applause and cheers, before settling into a booth in the hotel’s steakhouse.
Elsewhere inside the hotel, Ivanka Trump, the First Daughter and assistant to the president, was celebrating her 36th birthday two days early. It was a surprise dinner, and Ivanka, who has been told repeatedly by her father that she had “such a nice life in New York” before she moved to Washington, according to several people familiar with the conversations, was joined by several friends from Manhattan, including her brother-in-law Josh Kushner. Her husband, Jared Kushner, joined after just returning from an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia, as Politico first reported. The president and First Lady stopped by the dinner, as well, before making their way back to the White House before 10 p.m.
The surprise capped off a barreling week for the Trump-Kushners. Ivanka spent Wednesday on Capitol Hill holding a public event with lawmakers at which they discussed the expansion of the child tax credit. Behind closed doors, she met with Senators Mitch McConnell, Pat Toomey and Tim Scott, as well as several members of the House as part of her father’s push to slash the corporate tax rate. Over the last several months, she has met with 15 or 20 lawmakers, spoken with a number of advocacy groups, and put up a smattering of Instagram and Twitter posts detailing her involvement. (“Long overdue #TaxReform will make our businesses competitive, simplify and democratize the tax code, and provide much needed relief to American working families,” she Instagrammed on Wednesday, along with two photos of her speaking with lawmakers.) On Monday, she appeared on Sean Hannity’s program, increasingly a Trump propaganda echo chamber, to discuss tax reform. A week earlier, she and Kushner hosted lawmakers and administration staffers for a dinner at their Kalorama home during which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a presentation, complete with an accompanying chart.
On Wednesday, the couple marked their eighth wedding anniversary. That evening, she stopped by a party hosted by Rupert Murdoch to celebrate Laura Ingraham’s new show on Fox News. At the same time, Kushner was on a commercial flight out of Dulles to Saudi Arabia—his third to the country this year. The White House did not say on Sunday with whom Kushner met, but a senior White House official said in a statement that Kushner, deputy national security advisor for strategy Dina Powell and special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt recently returned as part of the ongoing Middle Eastern peace talks. “[The president] is personally committed to achieving a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians that would help usher in an era of greater regional peace and prosperity,” the official wrote. “While these regional talks will play an important role, the president reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties and that the United States will continue working closely with the parties to make progress toward that goal.” They were also preparing for the president’s upcoming trip to Asia next week, which Ivanka will kick formally commence by addressing the World Assembly for Women in Japan at the invitation of the country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. The Trump-Kushners are expected to join the president on the first three stops on his trip, in Japan, Korea, and China, though nothing is set.
The whirlwind tour, in many ways, caps the first stage of the Trump-Kushner’s quixotic attempt to conquer Washington, or at least milk it for what it was worth. As Ivanka’s nearest and dearest toasted her at the Trump Hotel, federal prosecutors were preparing for a major escalation in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. It is unclear who will be indicted on Monday, but Mueller’s team has focused on potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, along with whether or not the president obstructed justice by firing former F.B.I. director James Comey in order to impede the investigation—a decision Kushner supported. The special counsel has also been scrutinizing conversations between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, including one meeting at Trump Tower attended by Kushner and a handful of others. (Kushner has denied that he colluded with Russian or knows of anyone who did.) Nevertheless, the moveable feast went on as scheduled. And close observers wonder whether the couple will be celebrating next year’s occasion in New York, and with whom.
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