Jared Kushner Casts A (Nonbinding) Vote

And Arabella grabs more power.

Image: Tomer Gabel via Flickr

[It’s been a terrible week at the White House, even correcting for the fact that this is the Trump White House, and incompetence, evil and spectacle have been normalized to a degree once believed unattainable in America. JARED, IVANKA, their DAUGHTER and SON, GENERALS KELLY and MATTIS, and GARY COHN are sitting at a round table like a group of knights, only if knights didn’t believe in primogeniture (because that would mean DON JUNIOR gets everything). GENERAL KELLY has finally arranged a conference call with the Supreme Court regarding how to activate the Twenty-fifth Amendment. He has kept the purpose of the call from most of his colleagues but the wisest ones have intuited something is up. JARED is thinking that sitting in a circle is stressful because there are so many opportunities to make eye contact.]

GENERAL KELLY [perfunctorily, even though he is staging a coup]: Does anyone have the number to the Supreme Court?

[IVANKA learned at a young age that exploiting the laziness of the men around her pays dividends, sometimes literally, so she dials the phone. JUSTICE GORSUCH answers, exactly who GENERAL KELLY did not want.]

IVANKA [powerfully]: Justice Gorsuch, hello.

JUSTICE GORSUCH [obsequiously]: Hi Ivanka. If this is about wearing pink to raise awareness for breast cancer, I did get to talk to the Chief Justice about that.

[IVANKA smiles fakely to GENERAL KELLY, proud that she has defiantly ignored his request to stop selling branded clothing to other branches of government.]

JUSTICE GORSUCH [regretfully]: He said we have to wear the black robes. He said maybe I could wear a pink shirt or a pink tie underneath, but the black robes, they’re kind of our thing. And it would stress the public out, if we all of a sudden were wearing pink robes with your name on them.

IVANKA [persistently]: They’d be raising awareness for breast cancer.

JUSTICE GORSUCH [afraid]: I understand. I can bring the Chief in here. Maybe he can explain?

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER looks up from her book. Like GENERAL MATTIS, she is reading and highlighting Things Fall Apart. She tucks a Post-it note inside to mark where she is—she’d never fold a page of a book—and leans over the table, muting the phone.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [baffled]: You guys stole the seat for this guy?

[GENERAL KELLY smiles approvingly at KUSHNER DAUGHTER and unmutes the phones.]

IVANKA [curtly]: No. That’s fine.

JUSTICE GORSUCH [nervously]: Is that all then?

GENERAL KELLY [leaning over the table]: Justice Gorsuch, Hi. This is General Kelly. We need to speak to someone from the other side, please. Someone from the resistance.

[There’s crosstalk and shouting at the Supreme Court as JUSTICE KAGAN directs her junior Justice to pick up her dry cleaning and then liquefy JUSTICE GINSBURG’s lunch for her. It’s tradition at the Court that the most recently appointed Justice runs errands for the others, JUSTICE KAGAN screams, and it’s none of his business how JUSTICE GINSBURG, an icon and a hero, takes her meals.]

JUSTICE KAGAN [jauntily]: Is Cohn there?

GARY COHN [familiarly]: I know what you’re going to say, Elena. But listen to me. Of course he said he wanted to fucking resign. We all say we want to resign. Everyone wants to fucking resign.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [truthfully]: The only ones who are stuck are the kids and the generals.

JUSTICE KAGAN [hating that Trump is President but kind of addicted to the show]: Duh. I wanted to know if you saw what he said about wiping out Puerto Rico’s debt?

GENERAL KELLY: Justice Kagan, hello. This is General Kelly. We’re calling because—[GENERAL KELLY looks at GENERAL MATTIS like they’re townspeople in a musical about to convince, via dance routine, a large multinational corporation to stop poisoning the water supply]—we want to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

JUSTICE KAGAN [clapping]: Fucking. Finally. Is the Cabinet all present? Let’s do this. FUCK. YES. [JUSTICE KAGAN makes a whooping sound.]

[The roundtable’s silence deafens JUSTICE KAGAN.]

JUSTICE KAGAN [broadly]: Hello? Have you clowns read the text of the Amendment yet?

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER pulls the pocket Constitution Khizr Khan sent her once and reads along.]

JUSTICE KAGAN and KUSHNER DAUGHTER [in unison]: Have any of you been confirmed by Congress?


JUSTICE KAGAN [cornily]: Anyone else? Bueller? Cohn, what the fuck job do you have? I thought you were Treasury Secretary or something.

GARY COHN [ashamed]: Chief economic advisor.

JUSTICE KAGAN [disappointedly]: General Kelly, yeah I’m sorry, but the vote to remove isn’t binding unless it’s with the entire Cabinet.

[GENERAL KELLY and GENERAL MATTIS look at each other like they’re cartoon farm animals about to outsmart the fox outside the barn.]

GENERAL KELLY: What if we just vote to remove him to a nursing home?

JUSTICE KAGAN [being Little Miss Rules, a nickname the CHIEF JUSTICE has given her]: The Constitution doesn’t have anything to say about that. He’d just be technically in charge, is all.

GARY COHN [decisively]: Let’s just hold the vote, in that case. Assisted living.

IVANKA [without a doubt]: I vote he stays here in the White House.

GENERAL MATTIS [without a doubt]: Assisted living.

GENERAL KELLY [copping out, but standing at attention]: I follow the chain of command and General Mattis outranks me, so I likewise vote for assisted living.

[JARED is texting his brother JOSH, describing the pressure in his head. It’s almost like it needs to be popped open like a can of Diet Coke, he types, as everyone looks to him to cast his vote.]

JARED [feeling eyes on him]: I’m sorry. I was somewhere else.

[JARED looks to his daughter to bail him out. She explains to him that JUSTICE KAGAN is moderating a non-binding vote, about whether the President should stay in the White House, or move to an assisted living facility, where he will be administered the care he seems to require.]

JARED [happy, briefly]: So he’ll move out?

IVANKA [calmly]: I don’t think Jared realizes how much his fate is wrapped up in the fate of his father-in-law. [She mouths the word “prison” to her husband.]

JARED [scrunching his forehead]: Piss on?

JUSTICE KAGAN [correctly]: I assume this is ultimately regarding the piss tape, yes.

IVANKA [audibly]: Pr-pr. Prison.

JARED [weakly]: Right. Okay. I’m with her. [JARED points to his wife.]

JUSTICE KAGAN [being Little Miss Rules again]: You have to say how you vote.

JARED [defeated, again]: I vote for him to stay in the White House.

[KUSHNER SON is pushing a toy truck along the table. He is making a revving sound, like he is an engine.]

IVANKA [speaking for her son]: He votes White House.

JUSTICE KAGAN: That’s three-three. One more vote to break the tie.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [powerfully]: Who would be in charge when Grandpa is in the assisted living residence?

THE GENERALS [hopefully]: You would be.

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER looks to GARY COHN and the GENERALS. Their desperation is palpable and it saddens her.]

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [curiously and comfortably]: What do you think, Elena?

JUSTICE KAGAN [breathing life into the Constitution]: I don’t believe in nepotism or lineages, but from what I hear from Gary, I do think you’d be a great shadow President.

[KUSHNER DAUGHTER smiles to herself as she imagines sitting in the Oval Office, playing Legos with the GENERALS, listening to an audiobook of PRESIDENT GRANT’s memoirs.]