Amy Wilentz is a longtime contributing editor at The Nation and former Jerusalem correspondent for The New Yorker. She’s best known for her work on Haiti, most recently the award-winning book Farewell Fred Voodoo. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Jon Wiener: Ivanka is connected pretty directly to events at the center of the Russiagate investigations. Where do you think the strongest case could be made that she committed a crime?
Amy Wilentz: Possibly it’s the cover-up from the meeting on Air Force One after that fabled meeting in Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer. On Air Force One, the Trump team, including the president and Jared Kushner and Ivanka, crafted a message to the media saying that the Trump Tower meeting was largely about Russian adoptions and had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. Of course, we subsequently learned it was all about a promise of dirt on Hillary from the Russians. Ivanka was present at that meeting. She did tell Michael Wolff, the author of Fire and Fury, that she participated in that meeting only briefly and took a pill to go to sleep. That strikes me as too much honesty. When do you find a person in high office admitting that they took a pill to go to sleep? Only when they want to suggest they left a meeting very quickly, one that’s under investigation, because they needed their beauty sleep…
JW: There was another meeting where she did not take a pill to go to sleep: the one where they discussed firing FBI Director James Comey.
AW: Yes, and she was very supportive of that idea. Reportedly, she was worried, as was her husband, about Comey’s taking a look at various Kushner Company projects, as well as Trump Organization deals. They were frightened about that and she wanted to get rid of him.
JW: That seems very much like being part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice—if we believe that Comey was fired to stop him from investigating the president’s crimes—
AW: Rather than being fired because he was too tough on Hillary and her e-mails, as Trump alleged after his firing.
JW: The Intercept had a piece on whether Ivanka could be indicted, by Hannah Seligson. She pointed to Ivanka’s connections to Felix Sater. Who is he?