Jared Kushner told Bob Woodward Trump took the country “back from the doctors”

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The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner boasted to journalist and author Bob Woodward in an April interview that President Trump had taken the country “back from the doctors,” amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to audio obtained by CBS News. 

In an interview taped on April 18, as the virus was overwhelming New York City and spreading throughout the country, Kushner told Woodward there were three phases — the “panic phase,” the “pain phase,” and the “comeback phase.”

“The last thing was kind of doing the guidelines, which was interesting,” Kushner told Woodward. “And that in my mind was almost like – you know, it was almost like Trump getting the country back from the doctors. Right? In the sense that what he now did was, you know, he’s going to own the open-up.”

“There were three phases,” Kushner also said in the interview, which was first reported by CNN. “There was the panic phase, the pain phase and then the comeback phase. I do believe that last night symbolized kind of the beginning of the comeback phase. That doesn’t mean there’s not still a lot of pain and there won’t be pain for a while, but that basically was, we’ve now put out rules to get back to work. Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors. They’ve kind of — we have, like, a negotiated settlement.”

When Kushner spoke to Woodward, the White House had just released guidelines for reopening the country in an “Opening Up America Again” document. Though he did not specify what “last night” meant, on the night before the interview, on April 17, President Trump had said at a Coronavirus Task Force briefing that he was leaving coronavirus testing to governors. He had also tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” AND “LIBERATE VIRGINIA” in response to stay-at-home orders by those states’ governors. 

Mr. Trump told Woodward in one interview for Woodward’s book, “Rage,” that he always wanted to play down the virus.

The president, who appeared to defer to experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx in the early days of the pandemic, became increasingly frustrated by the economy’s downward trajectory as the disease spread and governors locked down their states. He and his administration pushed for reopening without a comprehensive testing and tracing plan in place. The president has been open about his irritation with Fauci, in particular, whom he has called a “Democrat” even though Fauci says he belongs to no political party. 

In the same interview, Kushner also described the two political parties as more like “collections of tribes,” and said the president “basically did a full hostile takeover of the Republican Party.” 

“So you have a disproportionality between what issues people are vocal on and what the people, the voters, really care about,” Kushner said. “And what Trump’s been able to do is – I say he basically did a full hostile takeover of the Republican Party. And I don’t think it’s even as much about the issues. I think it’s about the attitude.”

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