These needs, apparently, did not concern the Trump-Kushner family. As both policy and personal behavior show, the needs of others rarely do.
The issue began when, according to sources, the Trump-Kushner clan denied the agents assigned to protect them access to one of the 6½ bathrooms in their 5,000-square-foot Kalorama mansion, instead making them use a port-a-potty outside. Their neighbors, many of whom paid millions of dollars for their own homes, were not interested in living with a permanent port-a-potty and said so. “Tacky,” one neighbor complained to Cosmopolitan. “Ewww, really?”
What came next was even tackier. For several months, the agents — responsible, mind you, for protecting the lives of Ivanka, Jared and their children — didn’t have much access to a bathroom at all. They needed to beg — first, from the Secret Service detail guarding the nearby Obama family, and then from Vice President Pence, and then even neighborhood restaurants. Finally, the Secret Service arranged to pay a nearby property owner $3,000 a month for the use of a basement apartment.
The situation stinks to high heaven. That the government has spent more than $100,000 because Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner couldn’t bother to consider their Secret Service detail’s bathroom needs is the least of the things wrong with this setup.
I need to note here that the White House denies that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were behind the bathroom ban, saying the Secret Service made the decision. Others familiar with the situation say that’s not so. But even if the White House is correct, it seems extraordinary to think that the entire neighborhood apparently knew about the Secret Service’s potty problems while Trump and Kushner did not bother to raise their voices to say to someone in authority, “This is all a mistake. Use a house toilet while we straighten this all out.”
But thinking about others is not the modus operandi of anyone in this administration or the Trump family more generally. They lack empathy for working or struggling people. They simply don’t consider the help.
When President Trump shut down the nonessential services of the federal government in a budget fight with Congress, how federal employees would get by without a paycheck didn’t apparently enter his thoughts for a moment. “I’m sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments. They always do,” he said at the time. More recently, his slipshod approach to covid-19 exposed numerous White House employees to the coronavirus.
This contempt — and make no mistake, that’s what it is — transferred over to policy. Families were separated at the border. Numerous attempts were made to weaken the government safety net. Student loan lenders were favored over borrowers. The workplace was treated no differently. During Trump’s time in office, the Labor Department weakened or fully did away with protections in areas ranging from hourly pay to worker safety, cutting back on inspections of workplaces by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Heck, OSHA removed the names of workers who died in workplace accidents from its homepage.
Ivanka Trump wanted us to believe she was better than this reign of meanness — that she was, as Peter Wade wrote over at Rolling Stone, the “more palatable” Trump. But this was always an act. Ivanka Trump possesses a long track record of treating her help carelessly, and acting in a self-interested way. A self-proclaimed champion of women’s empowerment in the workforce, her motivational skills included making surprise visits to her office on Sundays to encourage her corporate employees to show up on their day off. She didn’t offer paid maternity leave until pressured to do so. Her clothes were manufactured at factories where workers were paid little and treated worse. When she promoted the Trump tax package as offering an enhanced child tax credit, she seemingly forgot to mention the law’s real estate provisions almost certainly benefited husband Jared Kushner.
This sort of callousness and cluelessness almost always catches up with people in the end. In this case, it’s all too fitting that as the Trump administration ends, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s reputations are getting flushed down the toilet with it.