President Trump personally designed a large “key to the White House” to give to special guests, his son-in-law Jared Kushner reveals in his upcoming memoir.
The billionaire branding expert-turned-commander-in-chief styled the ornate brass gift to impress and gave it to select supporters, generally in private.
Each jumbo key was emblazoned with the presidential seal and the words “Key to the White House.” It came with a custom wooden box engraved with the seal and bearing an interior inlaid image of the building.
Then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received one of the antique-looking keys in September 2020 during the signing of the Abraham Accords, in which Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates became the third and fourth Arab nations to recognize Israel’s independence.
But Netanyahu, who proudly showed his key to reporters in the Oval Office, wasn’t the first honoree and other guests received the souvenirs, Kushner says.
“When Trump met with Bibi, he whipped out his signature gift — an oversize bronze ‘key to the White House’ in a wooden box carved with the presidential seal,” Kushner recounts in “Breaking History,” due out Aug. 23.
“Trump had designed the key himself to give to special guests,” Kushner adds.
“This is the first key I’m giving to anyone,” Trump told Netanyahu in private, according to the then-first son-in-law. “Even when I’m not president anymore, you can walk up to the front gate of the White House and present it, and they will let you in.”
As Kushner listened, he recalls, he and fellow White House adviser Avi Berkowitz “tried to keep from laughing.”
“We had heard the line before, and Trump had delivered it a little too earnestly. Yet Bibi beamed,” Kushner writes.
Moments later, the visiting Israeli leader asked Trump in the Oval Office: “Can I show this?”
“Sure, I would love that,” Trump replied as Netanyahu showed reporters his key.
“This was a special token of affection given by myself and the first lady to the prime minister and the first lady of Israel. And it’s a key. We call it a ‘key to the White House’ and it’s a key to our country and to our hearts,” Trump said.
Netanyahu returned the flattery, saying, “Thank you, Mr. President. And I have said, and this is true, that you have the key to the hearts of the people of Israel because of all the great things you’ve done for the Jewish state and the Jewish people. So thank you.”
Kushner, who spearheaded the administration’s diplomatic efforts to normalize Arab-Israel relations, relays another behind-the-scenes conversation held that day between Trump and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani.
“Trump joked that the best wristwatch he ever owned was a gift he had received decades earlier from the emir of Bahrain,” Kushner writes. “‘This watch was beautiful, and it worked for twenty-five years,’ he said. ‘Some old watches just stop ticking after a while — like Joe Biden.’”
It’s unclear how many other people received the special key, but it was a significant step up from standard presidential gifts, such as fancy ceremonial pens used to sign legislation and customized White House boxes of M&Ms.
Attorney Jenna Ellis, who was involved in Trump’s attempts to overturn Biden’s election victory, revealed on Twitter in January 2021 that Trump “gave me a Key to the White House, for my service to him and our country.”
Kushner writes elsewhere in the book that Trump designed other merchandise, including his famous “Make America Great Again” hat during the 2016 campaign. An aide initially ordered just 100 hats “thinking he’d never know the difference,” but the campaign ended up earning $80,000 per day from hat sales alone, according to Kushner.