It was days before the 2016 election and Steve Bannon was in a “panic.”
Chris Christie was about to get on a plane with then-candidate Donald Trump and was thought to be positioning himself to be chief of staff, and Bannon wanted to derail that possibility as quickly as he could, according to excerpts of Jared Kushner’s new book reviewed by The Daily Beast.
So, I called in Donald Trump’s son-in-law to help.
“We’ve got to keep him off [the plane],” Kushner recalled Bannon telling him.
The conversation continued, with Bannon calling Trump’s White House transition efforts—at that time led by the former New Jersey governor—a “train wreck,” while decrying his appetite for “anti-Trump establishment types.”
“Chris is politically radioactive,” Bannon declared, citing the infamous 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal in New Jersey. I added that Trump “shouldn’t have to carry his baggage from him.”
Responding to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, Christie said, through a spokesperson, “I’m looking forward to seeing Jared’s book where it belongs—in the fiction section at Barnes and Noble.” Bannon had not responded to The Daily Beast’s request for comment as of Monday afternoon.
The stormy history between Christie and Kushner dates back to 2004 when the former, a New Jersey prosecutor, convicted Kushner’s father, Charles, of tax evasion, which the ex-governor deemed “loathsome” crimes.
Despite speculation, in the end, Kushner maintained that it wasn’t him that had Christie booted from Trump’s transition team roster shortly after the 2016 election.
As CNN first reported last week, Kushner would go on in the book to blast Bannon over his “toxic” qualities and allege that the latter played a part in “undermining” Trump’s early days in Washington.
Kushner’s book, scheduled to be released at the end of August, is just one facet of his attempt to rebrand since leaving the White House.
He has also sought to cash in with his own private equity firm, Affinity Partners, which raised a mammoth $2 billion from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in 2021. The deal raised eyebrows, considering that Kushner had worked with the Saudis while Trump was in office , and in light of the country’s abysmal human rights record.
Further adding to the intrigue: the Saudi fund’s own advisory panel had reportedly expressed concern about Affinity’s “inexperience” and its fee structure, and determined that its operations were apparently “unsatisfactory in all aspects.” The wealth fund’s board moved forward anyway.
An Affinity spokesperson told New York Times in April that it was “proud” to have the fund and “other leading organizations that have careful screening criteria, as investors.”
Prior to joining the political family business in the Oval Office, Kushner had primarily worked in real estate, where he posted a very mixed track record.
Elsewhere in Kushner’s new memoir, Breaking History: A White House Memoirhe recounts another dramatic scene that unfolded during the (very brief) tenure of White House communications head Anthony Scaramucci.
Dan Scavino, Hope Hicks, Ivanka Trump, Kushner, Bannon, Scaramucci, and the former president gathered to speak with CIA director Mike Pompeo in the Oval Office, at which point Kushner suggests in his memoir that Trump considered Bannon dead weight.
“I have [Trump] paused for dramatic effect, looked across the room at Bannon, and then continued,” Trump’s son-in-law wrote. “’We also have some real losers and leakers as well, but that will change.’”
Shortly after that, things did change, as Bannon was unceremoniously fired.