Kushner told Woodward in April Trump was ‘getting the country back from the doctors’

White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDemocrats accuse Kushner of ‘casual racism’ over comments about Black Americans Scaramucci says Trump has united country: ‘It just happens to be against him’ Obama slams Kushner comments on Black Americans: ‘What history books do they read?’ MORE in April told journalist Bob Woodward that the country had progressed in its response to the coronavirus pandemic to the point where President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE was “back in charge” and “getting the country back from the doctors.”

Kushner, who is also the president’s son-in-law, told Woodward on April 18 that the country was moving into what he deemed the “comeback phase.” The comments came one day after Trump tweeted out support for people protesting against coronavirus-related restrictions with calls to “liberate” Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia.

“There were three phases. There’s 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,” Kushner told Woodward, according to an audio recording published by CNN.

“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,” he continued. “Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors. They’ve kind of — we have, like, a negotiated settlement.”

Kushner told Woodward that working out guidelines allowing parts of the economy to reopen “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.”

The comments came in April, when the country had managed to reduce infection rates and improve hospital capacity after the administration promoted an initiative to “slow the spread” for 30 days by encouraging social distancing and mask wearing.

Trump told Woodward in February and March that he was aware the virus was dangerous and could spread through the air, but that he wanted to intentionally play down its severity to avoid causing panic, according to previously released recordings.

But in the six months since, Trump has agitated for the country to fully reopen, leading to a spike in virus cases. In that same time frame, he has pushed aside medical experts who were leaders on the White House coronavirus task force, including Anthony FauciAnthony FauciConservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls 68 percent of Americans say they know someone diagnosed with COVID-19: poll The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands MORE, Deborah BirxDeborah BirxFauci: Trump has not been to a task force meeting in months Scott Atlas: Fauci ‘just one person on the task force’ Overnight

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Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner Threaten Lawsuit Over Billboards Criticizing Them for COVID-19 Response

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty The Lincoln Project billboards in New York City

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner threatened to sue an anti-Trump group over billboards in New York City blasting the senior White House aides for their role in the government’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans focused on preventing Donald Trump’s re-election on Nov. 3, recently set up two giant billboards in N.Y.C.’s Times Square that feature the president’s 38-year-old daughter on one and her husband, 39, on another.

In the first billboard, Ivanka is seen smiling and gesturing toward a set of statistics that more than 33,000 New Yorkers and more than 224,000 Americans have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As noted elsewhere, the photo used is the same one that Ivanka posted in a controversial tweet in July promoting Goya beans, which drew backlash from some who said the Trump administration was endorsing a specific company.

In the adjacent billboard, Kushner, who like his wife serves as an adviser to the president, can be seen smiling beside something that Vanity Fair quoted him saying during a meeting in March: “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem.” (Kushner disputes saying this.)

The bottom of the billboard with his photo is lined with red-and-white body bags.

The billboards are set to remain through at least two days after the election, per The New York Times.

RELATED: CBS Airs 60 Minutes Interview with Trump — Including When He ‘Walked Out’ After Complaining About Tone

Alex Wong/Getty From left: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

The couple was not pleased, according to an attorney representing them, who sent a letter on Friday to The Lincoln Project threatening a lawsuit if the billboards were not removed.

Marc E. Kasowitz, the lawyer, called the billboards “false, malicious and defamatory.”

Kasowitz also took issue with the juxtaposition on the billboards between the disputed Kushner quote and Ivanka’s gesture and the other elements tying them to the death toll from the pandemic.

Kasowitz described it as “outrageous and shameful libel.” (He did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)

“If these billboards are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages,” he wrote in his letter.

The Lincoln Project, which has built a major media profile (and raised millions) on a series of viral anti-Trump ads and other stunts, quickly posted his letter on social media instead.

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Later on Friday, the group shared its rebuttal on Twitter, calling the president’s daughter and son-in-law “entitled, out-of-touch bullies who have never given the slightest indication they have any regard for the American people.”

“We plan on showing them the same level of respect,” the group wrote in its response.

The

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