It’s a hallmark of countless films about the mafia: the craving for respectability, the yearning for legitimacy, the desire to go clean. The ur-scene is from The Godfather, when Don Corleone tells his youngest son and heir apparent, “I never wanted this for you,” and rattles off the jobs he’d been hoping Michael might hold instead: “Senator Corleone, Governor Corleone…” To which I might add, special adviser to the president of the United States.
Jared Kushner, former special adviser to the president of the United States, is Don Corleone’s dream come to waking life: he is the grandson of immigrants to New Jersey who worked in the trades and the eldest son of a New York property developer and manager who did time in federal prison after entrapping his brother-in-law in a recorded encounter with a prostitute he’d hired and copping a plea to sixteen counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness, and one count of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission regarding his and his company’s illegal campaign contributions, most of which were to Democrats, and some of which were to the Clintons.
Educated at Harvard, NYU Law School, and NYU Stern School of Business, the crown prince of this tabloid affair emerged onto the Manhattan social scene polished (enough), poised (enough), and ready to spend outlandish amounts of social capital and capital-capital trying to clear his family’s name. To read about Jared in the press—usually just “Jared”—was to read about a stunted, striving boy-man hell-bent on alternately earning and redefining the boldfaced surname that Page Six denied him. Online he was often referred to by his initials, as if a joke were being flagged: “JK.”
The story of his young career is like a mash-up of genres, a cautionary fairy tale, a tragicomic myth more Greek than Italian: in the process of forming himself around reforming his father’s reputation, he married a woman whose own lying, cheating, stealing father went on to become the forty-fifth president of the United States and whose single term resulted in two impeachments and multiple ongoing criminal and civil investigations—which suggests a variation on another famous line of the Corleones’: Just when you thought you were out, another dad pulls you back in.
Breaking History, Kushner’s new memoir, is nothing if not an attempt to exorcise those patrimonies—a nearly five-hundred-page book composed with all the beige rage not of a pezzonovante, a Big Shot, but of a Li’l McKinseyite consultant whose disciplined loyalty to family management would be admirable, or at least capable of eliciting sympathy from me, had he been a private citizen and not a public servant. Call it a bleaching, a blanching, a prose laundromat set to whitewash out all stain—Kushner’s tome isn’t interested in convincing you that, say, banning travel from certain majority-Muslim countries was a smart and useful move, or that opening detention facilities along the Mexican border was a forced-hand but efficient measure, or that the FBI’s Russia investigation was grotesquely overblown and conclusively wasteful, so much as it’s interested in convincing you that Jared Kushner is a decent guy, and that his father Charles Kushner is a decent guy, and that the Don(ald) himself, he’s a good dude too, and Ivanka, well, if you’re ever lucky enough to meet her, she’ll take your breath away…
A China embargo, as Trump sometimes proposed, is an effective PR gambit when merely a threat, and tantamount to suicide if ever implemented, whereas a book embargo must be implemented and then constantly publicized for anyone to care about it. For weeks before the publication date of Kushner’s memoir, its marketing copy flashed online, posted widely by content mills and clickbait factories: Now, Kushner finally tells his story—a fast-paced and surprisingly candid account of how an earnest businessman with no political ambitions found himself pulled into a presidency that no one saw coming.
After this initial step of creating demand, the next step of a successful book embargo involves purposefully violating it through selective leaking, and the leaks here were as plentiful as they were on Trump’s Pennsylvania Avenue, or in one of the scores of beleaguered housing projects owned and/or managed by the Kushners. Days before publication, listicles began to spread across the Internet like toxic mold: Five revelations from Jared Kushner’s White House memoir… Five noteworthy nuggets from Jared Kushner’s new book… The most revealing part… The most ridiculous part… All the juicy gossip from Jared Kushner’s book… Jared Kushner’s FIVE biggest secrets and scandals… As I didn’t rate one of these early copies and had to wait like a deplorable, I found myself impatient and sucked in: Trump tried to get Ivanka to date Tom Brady?! Jared broke up with Ivanka because she wasn’t Jewish, but they got back together again on the French Riviera—actually on Rupert Murdoch’s yacht, where they were serenaded by Billy Joel, Bono, and Bob Geldof (cofounder of Live Aid, father of Peaches)?! Jared asked Trump for permission to propose to Ivanka, which Trump granted before calling Ivanka to tip her off and so ruining the surprise of the proposal?! John Kelly, former chief of staff, once bodychecked Ivanka in a West Wing hallway?! And wait, wait—all this time Jared, He Who Never Spoke, actually had thyroid cancer (which Peter Navarro, former assistant to the president, now claims he is faking to pump his book sales)?!
Primed by this sludge, I was disappointed when the book that finally arrived turned out to be as salacious as…thyroid cancer, with Wikipedic summaries of geopolitical disputes interspersed with analyses of the soft power that can be communicated through the size of luncheon buffets and motorcade honor guards.
If this banality is the inevitable product of an author writing as a devoted son, it’s also the product of an author writing as a devoted son-in–law—especially as a son-in-law to one of the most powerful men in the world who’s not exactly known for his tolerance of criticism or capacities for introspection and forgiveness. I feel for Kushner, I’m saying. I don’t want to, but I do. The task he had before him was insane: to write a book that rehabilitated his own family while not alienating the family he married into, which controls a vast direct-to-consumer sales network that can virtually guarantee best-sellerdom. That Kushner nonetheless embraced this crazy task must be taken as a mark of his narcissism, or his ego-neediness—of how desperate he is for redemption.
That the family he’s trying to redeem almost didn’t exist is never far from Kushner’s mind: “My family’s mere existence is improbable.” The Kushners (or Kuszners, a name meaning “furrier” in Yiddish) hail from Novogrudok, a town formerly in Poland, currently in Belarus, which the Nazis took in 1941, establishing a ghetto and then a labor camp where approximately 30,000 Jews were either worked to death or executed. The few hundred who managed to survive those initial slaughters included Kushner’s grandmother Rae Kushner, her sister, her brother, and their father.
By 1943, inmates of the camp had managed to dig a nearly six-hundred-foot tunnel under the perimeter fencing and attempted an escape. A group of the youngest went first and though a few made it out to the nearby woods, the majority were caught and shot, including Kushner’s great-uncle. The Kushner sisters fled in a later group, having stayed behind to help their ailing father through the tunnel. This act of filial fidelity wound up saving the sisters’ lives and provided young Jared with a lesson: Never leave anyone behind, whether it’s a father who can’t outrun the Nazis or a father who can’t outrun the federal charges of then US attorney Chris Christie.
Living almost ferally in the woods, Rae Kushner met up with one of the legendary Bielski brigades of Jewish partisans, a member of which, Joseph Berkowitz, became her husband. They married in Hungary, snuck across the Austrian Alps to Italy, and—because Berkowitz had accrued a rap sheet for smuggling goods into Italian displaced-persons camps—applied for visas to come to the States under Rae’s last name. This Shoah section of Breaking History is the one section its author didn’t experience firsthand, and yet it’s undeniably the book’s most poignant and vivid, due to its reliance on Rae’s published writings and the oral history she put on tape for the United States Holocaust Museum around the time of her grandson’s birth.
Once settled in America, “my Dad purchased, financed, and managed the properties, and my grandfather ran construction of the new buildings”—that’s it. The burdened epigone, the belated beneficiary of great expectations owed to great suffering, Kushner makes no mention of what it took to muscle into those businesses in the postwar world on both sides of the Hudson: the corners cut, the wheels greased, the accommodations with the unions and their protection. Everything comes easily, simply, as if in a dream, with years of Kushner’s life ticking by in barely a paragraph, barely a sentence: the only anecdotes from his college career involve him meeting his roommate while doing, yes, laundry, and then later persuading his father to put up the cash to help him buy some ramshackle properties that he thought were underpriced, because technically they were located in Somerville, not Cambridge. “I graduated from Harvard with honors,” he writes, “while making millions of dollars from my real estate investments”—the honors being an especially impressive achievement for a guy admitted to the school only a year after his father happened to give it a $2.5 million donation.
Stints at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, a JD/MBA at NYU—the silent infante, the dumb dauphin, breezes through them all, lingering only on his weekly trips down South to visit his father at the Federal Prison Camp, Montgomery. He tries to present his joining the family firm as a concerted effort to pitch in with the household expenses while his father was still wearing a jumpsuit:
I offered to drop out of grad school to help manage the company full-time, but my dad pleaded with me not to make that sacrifice. We compromised that I would stay enrolled, but spend the bulk of my time helping with the business.
He helped—Kushner can’t stop using the word, he can’t help himself—with a vengeance: “I went on a major buying spree, acquiring more than twelve thousand apartments across the country and completing $14 billion of transactions in roughly ten years.”
That list of acquisitions includes 666 Fifth Avenue, which at $1.8 billion was then the highest price ever paid for a building in this country, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters in Brooklyn, with its seven-hundred-some-thousand square feet of prime East River frontage. What it doesn’t include is Ivanka, who’s treated in her husband’s pages like a convertible asset, a fungible blonde whom Kushner won’t commit to until she’s ready to become a Jew—or until she’s ready to say that becoming a Jew was her idea. “Ivanka had made the decision on her own,” her husband tells his future father-in-law, who reportedly says, “That’s great. Most people think I’m Jewish anyway.”
I’m not sure I buy Kushner’s claim that Ivanka chose conversion without being pressured, but that she went through with it is certainly a sign—of her love for him, or of how intensely she wanted to become someone else. Their alliance strikes me as the most significant rebellion the couple could muster: a mutual half-rebellion, which provided each of them with the distance they craved, whether consciously or not, from their respective tumultuous and boundaryless clans. Kushner’s portrayal of their coupledom reads like a relationship guide written by AI, a flashback montage starring sexless amnesiacs on date-night, chasing gentrification and tailed by paparazzi: “We’d…take cooking lessons at a local restaurant, or play shuffleboard at a new bar in a trendy neighborhood.”
Despite this dispassion, three children are engendered, though the book really only mentions one: the eldest daughter, Arabella, who’ll show up to recite Tang poetry and speak in fluent Mandarin before scampering off to brush her teeth, comb her hair, and put herself to bed. “Life was full,” Kushner writes of that six-year stretch of marital calm between his and Ivanka’s wedding at Bedminster in 2009 and Trump’s sixty-ninth birthday party at Bedminster in 2015, during which he tells the family that he’s running for president and asks Ivanka to clear next Tuesday—only two days later—so she can introduce him when he descends the escalator to announce his candidacy in the lobby of Trump Tower: “We had no idea that our world was about to turn upside down.”
As Trump’s candidacy turned from 2015 joke to 2016 certainty, the media, especially the legacy media—which Trump supporters were increasingly calling the elite media as a way of not quite calling it the Zionist or Jewish media—ramped up its coverage of Kushner, who after all was one of its own. Outlets that hadn’t believed Trump had any chance of clinching the nomination, and that still didn’t believe Trump had any chance of winning the election, amortized their almost subconscious dread in ever-hotter takes and chart-y explainers about how Kushner was really a liberal: he’s a Manhattan Democrat vegetarian Jew who once owned The New York Observer! His brother, Josh Kushner, is a major tech bro! His wife is friends with Chelsea Clinton! Be assured, be reassured—they both voted for Obama!
Especially after the election burst the coastal bubbles and the unimaginable became the true, these real fake-news items were unavoidable, though they seemed more and more like panicked prayers or SOS signals: Jared and Ivanka, who were among the youngest people in the incoming administration, would be the adults in the room; together, they’d run some interference and prevent a next world war. Only Jarvanka—or, Twitter asked, was it Javanka?—stood between us and Armageddon, and by “us” the bloviators, who’d learned nothing from the election, meant not America but the blue states, or New York City minus Staten Island, or only about half of the Hamptons. Here was one instance where the Times could agree with Fox, and even with Steve Bannon’s Breitbart, Newsmax, Infowars, and all those counterfactual fan-fic message boards that spawned QAnon: an Ivy League sleeper cell might very well embed next door to the Oval Office!
By Kushner’s account, he was comfortable enough in his Manhattan milieu that he never even considered joining the Trump team in an official capacity until the campaign requested his—you guessed it—“help,” managing the social media ad teams and the e-commerce platforms hawking MAGA hats. (“Soon we increased online hat sales tenfold from $8,000 to $80,000 per day, which funded most of the campaign’s overhead costs.”) Lest anyone accuse him of not volunteering his services from the outset due to skepticism about his father-in-law’s policies, or lack of policies, or poll numbers, Kushner reminds us that even after the election, when an administration position was his for the taking, he remained adamant: he wasn’t sure yet. Ivanka was still figuring out her own role. There were worries about the children.
The road-to-Damascus moment, as Kushner tells it, came as late as the eve of the inauguration, when he and Ivanka tagged along with Trump and Melania to meet Barack and Michelle at the White House. “As someone who always paid attention to real estate, I was shocked by the limited square footage of the West Wing,” he writes, in full site-inspector mode, going on to bemoan the small cramped windowless offices, which were “the exact opposite of the open workspaces that I had found conducive to collaboration in my companies.”
After Melania and Michelle completed the obligatory exercise-in-sexism open house tour, and Trump and Obama’s one-on-one was over (at which Obama apparently warned Trump not to hire General Michael Flynn as national security adviser), the Trump entourage was making its way back to the SUV scrum when Obama took Kushner aside under the colonnade and asked, “‘Have you and Ivanka decided if you are coming to Washington?’” When Kushner hesitated, Obama delivered the pitch, as if straight from NPR, or from my parents: “You definitely should…you could do a lot of good here.’”
Whether this is factual or not is immaterial, or at least not as material as the fact that Jared wrote it—he wants it to be true, and Obama hasn’t yet denied it. Regardless, Kushner has provided his own disclaimer, and when I hit that line I went flipping back to the book’s preface to reread it: “In some instances, I recreated dialogue to help readers experience…” And then—HELP!—I flipped ahead to the acknowledgments section, where Kushner thanks at least a half-dozen lawyers. Nowhere could I find that “Thanks, Obama.”
Credit where it’s due: the wholesale import of Manhattan real estate realpolitik into the White House that’s usually attributed to Trump was just as much a contribution of Kushner’s—perhaps even more so, given that Trump spent vast swaths of his administration on the fairways and in executive-time social-mediating, whereas Kushner’s portfolio as an adviser kept growing, from renegotiating NAFTA to figuring out prison reform, with his father on his conscience and the lobbying of Kim Kardashian in his pocket.
Dealing with these disparate briefs, he was guided less by the Latin of the Great Seal—E Pluribus Unum—than by the outer-borough demotic of Greg Cuneo, a contractor-macher who used to work for the Kushner Company and once told Kushner, Tutti mangia, or “Everybody eats” (which Kushner leadenly translates as “Everybody has to eat”). It was this principle of spreading the dough around and making room at the trough that Kushner brought with him when he switched from negotiating air rights to negotiating treaties: “People found that they could make money by working with me, which led to many incredible opportunities.”
No matter the issue Kushner undertook, this anti-ideological ideology was asserted: his purpose was always to get the best deal for whatever party he represented, be it the business he was born into, the business he married into, or his unconscious conflation of those businesses with the American people, whose popular vote favored Hillary Clinton by a significant margin. Recounting his efforts at negotiating tables just outside Steve Bannon’s trashed, football memorabilia–strewn office and at lavish banquet halls in seaside Gulf palaces, Kushner asserts time and again that government—the US government—is not merely obstructive but purposefully obstructive. He seems to have been shocked—but in the way that only someone lying is shocked—to find out that it isn’t just the private sector that’s constrained by red tape and overregulation. The same problems that hobble the New York City Department of Buildings hobble the US State Department, whose slow-rolling of approvals contribute to permitting delays and cost overruns in foreign policy, putting all the choicest tariff deals and trade pacts out of reach.
Kushner presents his experience with negotiating zoning variances and scaffolding change-orders as if it’s somehow applicable to de-escalating a standoff with North Korea or combating a lethal airborne pandemic: in every case, he says, the most formidable adversary was the system itself, the number of mid-level personnel you had to deal with before you got to a decision-maker. Take it from the guy who bungled PPE availability, testing capacity, and ventilator distribution: America would never be Great or become Great Again until its Congress and courts and intelligence agencies started caring less about their own budgets, protocols, and procedures, and started caring more about their quarterly results. Having to do diplomacy only through the State Department, or health policy only through the Department of Health, or education policy only through the Department of Education was like trying to build a very tall and long and beautiful wall, but not being able to choose the contractor. If you could use only the contractor provided to you, what incentive would they have to work? How would you hold them accountable? If they’re going to pad the bills, wouldn’t it be better to just make Mexico pay for it?
Kushner toiled within a Washington establishment that refused to accept him or his father-in-law at face value, as it were, and instead tried to remake them in a more conventional executive-branch image, in much the same way that for decades after 9/11 the establishment refused to accept Iraq as it was, or Afghanistan as it was, and instead tried to remake those countries into democracies and bastions of freedom in the American image (or in the image to which America aspires).
Though he doesn’t quite make the connection explicitly, Kushner expresses frustration about imposing change, on the behavior both of presidents and of foreign regimes, and persists in interpreting the traditions and norms that constitute much of what we think of as government as inflexibility at best, sabotage at worst. In the business he was used to, negotiating parties must focus on common goals, not on common values. When it comes to the dotted line, moral and ethical ideals become encumbering preconditions. If America didn’t have to insist (or pretend to insist) that its bargaining partners respect civil liberties and uphold the rule of law, think of the deals that could be done—with China, with Russia, and especially with the Sunni sheikhs and their nepotistic dynasties composed of “the Jared Kushners of the Middle East,” as the Jared Kushner of the United States claims that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman once described the guests at an official state visit party. These were the guys—and all of them were guys—you went to directly, ringing their private lines, when you didn’t want to bother going through Rex Tillerson or Mike Pompeo. With their cousins in the ministries and siblings in the treasuries, they knew how to get stuff done, and they also knew how to ignore Tillerson or Pompeo when what they said contradicted Kushner. And while some of the stuff they got done included, in bin Salman’s case, the indefinite detention and alleged torture of those cousins and siblings, not to mention the assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Kushner the naif waif contorts himself beyond all credibility to dwell in denial:
In the Arab world, politics is a family business, with members of royal families ruling for generations. As the son-in-law of the president, and a former executive of a family business, I represented something that [Arab leaders] found familiar and reassuring. They knew that when I spoke, I did so as an extension of the president in a way that few administration officials could.
Such was the kith-and-kin statecraft behind the Abraham Accords, a quasi-accidental policy success that emerged from failure—specifically from Kushner’s failure to broker peace between Israel and Palestine. Nobody was puzzled by Kushner’s inability to solve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, and there were many, from the UN to the synagogue I grew up in, who scoffed at the boy wonder’s hubris at even annexing the region for his portfolio. And yet it’s hard to contend that what Kushner pried from the mess is anything short of sloppily epochal—a sheaf of agreements between Israel and the first Arab nations to normalize relations with the Jewish state since the treaties with Jordan (1994) and Egypt (1979), and an accomplishment that though it has no appreciable benefit to the United States still surely makes his father shep nachas. There’s even a garden now in Jerusalem called the Kushner Garden of Peace.
How the Abraham Accords came about is pure Midtown, and involved a reevaluation of the Palestinians and of Palestine itself, in terms of what former bankruptcy attorney and Trump ambassador to Israel David Friedman called a “bankruptcy proceeding”: “Israel is a secured creditor,” Kushner quotes Friedman as saying,
they are the only democracy in the region with a stable government, a strong economy, a viable market. The Palestinians are an unsecured creditor: they have corrupt leadership, a flailing economy, and no stability, and yet they think they have parity with the secured creditors. From my experience, you always end up in trouble when you let the weaker party think it can call the shots.
To put Friedman’s bad-faith analogy in plainspeak, the Palestinians had shown themselves to be so risky and unreliable that they’d alienated not just the Israelis (obviously), and the Americans (only slightly less obviously), but also the Sunni portion of the Arab world that was inclined to regard Shia-majority Iran as a mutual enemy. After realizing that no major Arab government cared about the Palestinians as much as they feared a resurgent Iran, Kushner summarily cut the Palestinians loose and signed, sealed, and delivered binding covenants between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and Kosovo, in addition to a reconciliation agreement between the perennially feuding Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Just as Trump, it was said, had set out only to boost his ratings and improve his network TV contract and along the way was elected president, Kushner had been seeking security guarantees from hapless, Hamas-and-Hezbollah-threatened Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, and instead found himself realigning the power structure of the Middle East.
The accomplishment is even more striking—or seems even more like unadulterated luck—when you realize that none of the parties involved expected the accords, or even wanted to agree to them for similar reasons: Kushner was looking to save face after botching Israel–Palestine; the Arab parties were looking for investment opportunities in Israeli tech, along with intelligence-sharing and defense cooperation against a soon-to-be-nuclearized Iran; and an on-the-ropes Benjamin Netanyahu was looking to claim any victory he could on the eve of yet another election. It didn’t escape Netanyahu’s notice either that the accords were a pseudo-mortal defeat for the Palestinians, whose influence in and usefulness to the Sunni ummah had waned to such a degree that Kushner was able to inveigle Trump into officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory with hardly a murmur of dissent from Israel’s new Arab partners and only the faintest grumbling from the Arab street.
Explaining Kushner’s Middle East conquest is tricky only for those who’ve deliberately repressed how much of the Trump administration was the result not of careful premeditation and coordinated action but of unrepentant chaos and a sometimes imbecilic opportunism, which was responsible—whether you like it or not—for both the best [sic] and the worst moments of the Trump years, from the Abraham Accords to the attempted quid pro quo with Ukraine that offered military aid in exchange for kompromat on Biden. But unlike every other character in Trumpistan—from the only other presidential adviser who lasted the entire administration, Stephen Miller, to Anthony Scaramucci, the director of communications who lasted ten days—Kushner was married to the president’s daughter and followed her lead in how to cope with him, becoming an expert in ignoring Trump’s instability and even pretending that it didn’t exist. Far from being a “steadying influence” on the president (in the words of the Times), Kushner took what he needed from his father-in-law and, when he had to, tuned him out; after all, he had more pressing issues to get on with, like salvation and vendetta, the sufferings of the grandmothers and the sins of the fathers.
These were the fields he excelled in—fields bloodied by inheritance and childhood trauma. Having grown up in the shadow of the Shoah, in a family that was friendly with Netanyahu, Kushner dedicates himself to the stewardship of Israel and getting Netanyahu re-elected; afflicted by the stigma of his father’s criminality, Kushner dedicates himself to the First Step Act, reducing prison terms for nonviolent offenders; along the way, he dabbles in discussions of free-trade arrangements that put him in contact with prospective investors, whose bank transfers will clear the moment Trump is out of office and the regulators move on.
This is the image of Kushner that remains in my head long after finishing his blandly self-aggrandizing memoir: behind the insipid prose and rigorously squeegeed façade, there hides a secret self flaming with resentment and rage, grudges held and scores to settle. Kushner, below the made-man surface, is profoundly unmade, unfinished, stuck forever in his early twenties, which was when his family unraveled. He’s an eternal son, duty-plagued, obsessed with impugned honor; a self-declared underrecognized overachiever who even after vanquishing the Beltway still sweats the minutiae of status and class like a terminal bridge-and-tunneler; a perfect mute spokesperson for his lost generation, which brought Gen X cynicism to Millennial entitlement; and ultimately an outsize baby of ambitious Boomers who will never be content with his vengeance, because the vengeance he’s been seeking was never his own.
On December 23, 2020, Kushner’s father-in-law pardoned his father, in the same winter flurry of sham mercy that reprieved Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. This meaningless, empty-gestural decree was the crowning achievement of Kushner’s savantish crusade, not the final official overseas trip he undertook a few weeks after, when he supervised the ceremony at which Saudi Arabia and Qatar officially announced their intentions to restore full diplomatic ties—a late-inning win he’d personally negotiated, and a refutation of the claim that he only went to bat for Jewish causes.
Flying back to D.C. on January 6, 2021, Kushner received word in midair that Trump’s supporters were laying siege to the US Capitol, but I can’t imagine him ever worrying that much: Pence could hang, Trump could be led away in chains, the media could deny him his glory in the Gulf and instead run coverage of Congress fleeing from hordes of cosplay Vikings and neo-Confederates, it didn’t matter. Kushner had gotten what he wanted. He’d gotten more out of his father-in-law’s administration than anyone else—more than Trump’s own children, more than Trump himself—and as far as he was concerned, the election was lost, or it just wasn’t worth the cost to contest and overturn it. He was moving his family down to Florida and embarking on an exciting new career in private equity with $2 billion in start-up capital from the Saudis.