The press is reporting that Jared Kushner’s days as a White House power may come to an end, due to a flurry of reports about his meetings as a Trump adviser with foreign officials and corporate execs who are in a position to help out his family’s troubled real estate company — as well as Kushner’s considerable innocence when it comes to foreign policy. The knives are out, and the latest reports are that Donald Trump himself wants his son-in-law to disappear.
The New York Times editorial board says Kushner “flames out.” It says his only legacy ought to be anti-nepotism laws that would forbid the ascension of someone so unschooled in the ways of Washington.
At this point, the right question to ask is why Mr. Kushner still has any diplomatic role at all.
The Washington Post predicts “the fall of the House of Kushner” (a good Poe pun):
Once the prince of Trump’s Washington, Kushner is now stripped of his access to the nation’s deepest secrets, isolated and badly weakened inside the administration, under scrutiny for his mixing of business and government work and facing the possibility of grave legal peril in the Russia probe.
Kushner’s tensions with chief of staff John F. Kelly have spilled into public view, while other dormant rivalries have resurfaced. Some colleagues privately mock Kushner as a shadow of his former self; one official likened the work of his Office of American Innovation to headlines in “The Onion,” the satirical news website. Others said fear of the Russia probe has made some officials wary of interacting with Kushner on sensitive matters. And his reputation as an interlocutor for foreign governments has been undermined by the lowering of his security clearance level, which generated embarrassing headlines worldwide.
The NYT has reported that the Kushner family real estate company got loans of over $500 million coincidentally after Jared Kushner had met with the lenders’ execs as a White House adviser on “infrastructure.” CNN summarizes:
According to the Times, Kushner met with Joshua Harris, one of the founders of Apollo Global Management, on multiple occasions while advising the Trump administration on infrastructure policy, three people familiar with the meetings said….
In November 2017, Apollo’s real estate group lent Kushner Companies $184 million to refinance the mortgage of a Chicago skyscraper….And Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael Corbat, met with Kushner in the spring of 2017, the Times reported, citing people briefed on the meeting. A short time after, the group lent Kushner Companies $325 million for some of its Brooklyn properties.
The Washington Post earlier asserted that four countries potentially have leverage over Kushner, including Israel.
Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.
Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said.
Add Qatar! At the Intercept, Clayton Swisher and Ryan Grim report that Kushner’s father, the top principal at the Kushner real estate company, had a meeting with the Qataris last spring as the family struggled with a debt-ridden property in midtown New York.
At the previously unreported meeting, Jared Kushner’s father Charles, who runs Kushner Companies, and Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi discussed financing for the Kushners’ signature 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York City.
The 30-minute meeting, according to two sources in the financial industry who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the potential transaction, included aides to both parties, and was held at a suite at the St. Regis Hotel in New York.
At the Forward, Peter Beinart says Kushner’s position epitomizes the inequality of American society– he is only there because of extreme wealth, not brains or achievement.
[H]is rise is a case study in how extreme wealth and power reproduces itself, irrespective of ability, in an America in which upward mobility is increasingly a myth. Nothing he has done remotely prepared him for his vast governmental responsibilities, which include America’s relationships with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Canada, Israel and the Palestinians, and a host of domestic issues including prison reform. According to media profiles, Kushner never even expressed much interest in domestic or foreign policy while in school.
And since joining the government, he has displayed a predictable, yet nonetheless alarming, ignorance of the subjects he overseas. Discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with congressional interns last summer, Kushner declared that “the variables haven’t been changed much” in “the last 40 or 50 years”—a period of time in which the Jewish settler population in the West Bank has risen from zero to close to 400,000.