Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to former US president Donald Trump, has revealed that he was diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer while serving in the White House and managed to keep it a secret in an administration notorious for its leaks.
In an excerpt from his upcoming memoir provided to The New York Times and published Monday, Kushner describes how he was informed of his diagnosis in October 2019, while taking part in negotiations with China over a trade deal, and made sure only a small group of confidants knew about it.
“Please don’t tell anyone — especially my wife or my father-in-law,” Kushner recalled telling White House physician Sean Conley after his diagnosis, later adding that his condition “was a personal problem and not for public consumption.”
Kushner described the ordeal in an upcoming memoir titled “Breaking History: A White House Memoir” and set to be published on August 23.
Eventually, however, Kushner wrote that he did share the news with a small group of people that included his wife, Ivanka Trump; two of his aides, Cassidy Hutchinson and Avi Berkowitz; and then-White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
He was diagnosed early enough so his condition was treatable. Still, it required removing a “substantial part of my thyroid,” Kushner wrote, adding that he was told the procedure could damage his voice.
The surgery was scheduled to take place right before Thanksgiving. “That way, I would miss the least amount of time in the office. My absence might even go unnoticed. That’s how I wanted it,” Kushner wrote.
“This was a personal problem and not for public consumption,” he wrote.
The memoir reportedly offered little further explanation about the reasons behind Kushner’s attempts to hide his battle with cancer.
According to the NYT, he was not under any obligation to disclose his condition. The report cited several veterans of previous administrations who said that Kushner did not have to disclose the information because he was not an elected official.
“If it didn’t affect his performance, it was a personal matter and he had no obligation to disclose it. Unlike any business entanglements or investments that might pose conflicts of interest, this was a personal, medical matter,” said David Axelrod, who served as chief strategist in the Obama administration.
But despite his decision to keep his condition to himself, word somehow made it to Trump, who respected Kushner’s privacy.
Kushner wrote that one day before his scheduled surgery, Trump called him into the Oval Office and asked if he was nervous about the procedure.
Kushner asked the former president how he knew about it, to which Trump replied: “I’m the president, I know everything.”
According to Kushner, Trump added: “I understand that you want to keep these things quiet. I like to keep things like this to myself as well. You’ll be just fine. Don’t worry about anything with work. We have everything covered here.”
Kushner describes concentrating on work and trying “not to think about the upcoming surgery or the unwanted growth in my body. When I did think about it, I reminded myself that it was in the hands of God and the doctors, and that whatever happened was out of my control. At moments, I caught myself wondering whether I would need extensive treatment.”