A new report is out claiming that Donald Trump has recognized his current track isn’t one to victory and that he’s changing course. Specifically, he’s taking aim at son-in-law Jared Kushner for giving him bad advice and pushing policies that haven’t helped the President’s re-election chances.
This is coming from Axios, and all caveats when dealing with the anonymous reports apply, but Jonathan Swan has been pretty solid when it comes to sourcing within the White House.
NEW: "President Trump has told people in recent days that he regrets following some of son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner's political advice — including supporting criminal justice reform — and will stick closer to his own instincts" … https://t.co/6bvVxQrxOc
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 1, 2020
President Trump has told people in recent days that he regrets following some of son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner’s political advice — including supporting criminal justice reform — and will stick closer to his own instincts, three people with direct knowledge of the president’s thinking tell Axios.
Behind the scenes: One person who spoke with the president interpreted his thinking this way: “No more of Jared’s woke s***.” Another said Trump has indicated that following Kushner’s advice has harmed him politically.
If this is true, it’ll be welcome news to many Trump supporters, as Kushner has been in their sights for a long time. How much influence he truly has is up for speculation, but it certainly appears to be substantial. Given that, and given Trump’s recent downward trend, it stands to reason that Kushner would start to feel some heat. Axios also claims that Trump regrets the recent push for police reform.
What could have prompted this change in the Presidents outlook toward his most trusted advisor? The most likely answer is Tucker Carlson. Trump has a history of paying close attention to the Fox News host, including via one on one conversations. Carlson has lambasted Kushner over the last several weeks while encouraging Trump to get back to following his instincts.
There’s also the possibly that Trump has simply had enough of always being put in lose-lose situations by his son-in-law. If he supports criminal justice reform, he gets criticized and called a racist anyway. If he tries to get a police reform bill passed via the Republican Senate, the media says it’s toothless and calls him a racist anyway. If he supports a long-term DACA bill, he’s a racist for wanting border security with it. It never stops and none of those moves appear to have earned him new voters.
In short, no matter what Trump does, he will never placate a certain segment of the electorate. Perhaps he’s waking up to that reality?
It also wouldn’t surprise me if Trump is upset with how his initial reaction to the rioting and looting was received. The tweeting while taking no real action for weeks had Kushner written all over it. Now, in the last week, we’ve seen a shift, with Trump touting arrests and telling Bill Barr to start going hard after those that vandalize federal property. This morning, he ceased beating around the bush about the BLM organization as well, calling their ideology a symbol of hate.
As an aside, Trump should probably put some focus on his campaign apparatus as well. Brad Parscale is not doing a good job, as evidenced by Trump’s current struggles. The campaign has continually failed to capitalize on Biden’s gaffes and policy positions while they’ve also failed to establish a general narrative for why Trump deserves another term. There are rumors of campaign money being misused and states not having organizations set up in them properly. That’s inexcusable given how much money Trump has raised. He should have a ground game advantage in every single swing state. Parscale’s ridiculous bragging about having over a million signups for Trump’s Tulsa rally also blew up in his face. That was a really stupid thing for him to do and he should be held accountable for it.
At the end of the day, everything comes down to results. There’s only four months left and with each passing moment, more people become less likely to change their voting preferences. In 2016, Trump revamped his campaign, bringing on Kellyanne Conway late in the game to take over. That very likely won the election for him. He may need to do something similar again in 2020.
Some on the more establishment side of the conservative commentariat will say this is scapegoating and that Trump is to blame for all his woes. I don’t think it matters. You can’t change the candidate. You can change those around him who are not doing a good job. Kushner and Parscale are not doing a good job.
Is the old Trump back? We can’t know for sure, and the White House will deny any internal division on this point. If this report is true though, it could be the first step toward reinvigorating his re-election chances. Following Kushner’s advice has resulted in the President looking weak and ineffective, depressing his own base in the process (that base is his only hope for a second term). That can’t continue and if he’s remedying that situation now, it’s the right move.