|Senior Advisor to the President|
From: January 20, 2017 to Present
|Successor||Incumbent (no successor)|
Jared Corey Kushner (born January 10, 1981) is son-law of President Donald Trump married to Ivanka Trump. Kushner was appointed Senior White House Adviser to President Donald Trump in January 2017 and serves in an unpaid capacity.
Henry Kissinger wrote of Kushner in Time magazine, which named Kushner one of America's 100 most influential people, "As part of the Trump family, Jared is familiar with the intangibles of the President. As a graduate of Harvard and NYU, he has a broad education; as a businessman, a knowledge of administration. All this should help him make a success of his daunting role flying close to the sun."
Family and Education
Kushner's father, Charles Kushner, was involved in an ugly family dispute with his brother over a broken business partnership that resulted in a lawsuit. By 1999, the Kushners owned over 10,000 apartments. Part of the feud involved illegal campaign contributions to Democrats that Charlie had made while the brothers ran a very large real estate partnership. Bill Clinton, Benjamin Netanyahu, and disgraced New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, made several visits to the Kushners. He also made a lot of illegal donations to Sens. Jon Corzine, Robert Torricelli, and Bill Bradley. Charlie's brother claimed money owed to him was instead donated illegally to Democrats. The case attracted the attention of a US attorney with political ambitions - Chris Christie.
Kushner, like his father, is a big admirer of President Kennedy. He is a 2003 graduate of Harvard University. Reportedly, he was accepted to Harvard only after his father made a $2.5 million donation. His father Charlie is reported to have asked New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg to lobby Ted Kennedy to put in a call to the Harvard admissions dean on Jared's behalf. Jared wanted to go into public service and become a prosecutor, after graduating Harvard he attended New York University to earn degrees in law and business.
In 2005 Christie had Charles Kushner arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering in a case which made national headlines. A fictionalized episode of the TV series, Law and Order was based on the story. Charlie was convicted and sentenced to two years in federal prison, and the notoriety and exposure Christie gained helped propel him into the national limelight and the New Jersey governor's mansion.
Jared plans changed when his father was arrested. “I was basically forced to go into the family business. I got involved and was pretty much in the office five days a week and went to law school [on the side]." After his father's release with a criminal record, Jared assumed the role of the principal borrower in real estate transactions. One such transaction was the acquisition of 666 Park Ave. for $1.8 billion. In hindsight, it was the worst time to buy, with the real estate Crash of 2008 driving down rents as much as 50%. The Kushners were forced to sell retail portions of the building.
Jared began dating Ivanka Trump and bought some of his own properties while in law school. He got into the publishing business when he purchased the New York Observer. This brought him into contact and friendship with publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch. Kushner increased the Observer's online presence. After graduating from NYU in 2007 he decided to devote full-time to real estate, taking over the family business, Kushner Cos., while still owning the Observer. Jared started buying properties outside New Jersey, in New York, where he owns 70 buildings and more than a thousand apartments plus office space. Since 2010, he's bought units in Maryland as well.
But bad blood remained between Kushner and Chris Christie, the man Donald Trump appointed to oversee the presidential transition and who put Kushner's father away. Christie was out within days afterward.
Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, the happiest looking First Daughter in decades, converted to Orthodox Judaism to marry Kushner. The two honor Shabbat, and do not answer their phones after sundown on Fridays. The couple were married in 2009 and have 3 children. Arabella, the oldest, has been learning Chinese Mandarin since she was 18 months old. Their estimated net worth by the close of the first quarter of 2017 is $740 million.
2016 Presidential campaign
Kushner took on a pivotal role in Donald Trump's presidential campaign and – some say – delivered his father-in-law's win.
- “We weren’t afraid to make changes. We weren’t afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn’t working, we would kill it quickly,” Kushner says. “It meant making quick decisions, fixing things that were broken and scaling things that worked.”
As an observant Jew, Kushner was the recipient of anti-Semitic attacks by liberals, Democrats, and the mainstream media for the role he played in Trump's campaign. Trump opponents developed a narrative through blatant lies and distortions that the Trump campaign was being manipulated by powerful behind the scenes players. During the transition, Jared and Ivanka were verbally assaulted and abused by liberal bigots spewing hate in front of their three children while on board a JetBlue flight. It is unknown if the attack was inspired by or coordinated with mainstream media coverage of other anti-Trump violence that was occurring around the country.
White House Senior Advisor
National Security clearance
Initially, there were objections to Kushner's appointment to the White House staff and obtaining a national security clearance (holding a national security clearance means the holder knows or has access to the same information the president receives and the president is free to solicit advice or comment on the information. Based on the sheer volume a data received daily, the president needs trusted confidants to review and analyze the data. The professional bureaucratic national security class is often jealous of outsiders a president brings with him who enjoy such confidence. Michael Flynn, Monica Crowley, Steve Bannon, and Robin Townley all failed to receive such clearance, hence thwarting President Trump's foreign policy agenda early). A 1967 law signed by President Johnson barred public officials from hiring their relatives, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, in-laws or step-siblings. The law is seen as aimed at Robert F. Kennedy’s service as attorney general during President John Kennedy's administration. The Clintons found a loophole when Bill Clinton put his wife, Hillary Clinton, as head of a task force to overhaul healthcare, one-eighth of the US GDP.
When National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster tried to fire Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a protégé of Mike Flynn and holdover after Fynn's firing, Kushner, along with Bannon, intervened with the President on his behalf and overruled McMaster.
Kushner met with the leaders of so-called "moderate" Muslim groups in the United States in early January 2017 and asked for suggestions how President-elect Trump could soothe over relations between Trump and the US Muslim community, but the talks were put on hold when President Trump issued an Executive Order travel ban which the courts tied up. An undisclosed backchannel still exists between the White House and these groups.
Office of American Innovation
Kushner heads up the White House Office of American Innovation, a "SWAT team" of private consultants to reorganize and streamline the federal government. He also serves as an informal presidential envoy on the National Security Council staff and lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East. The Office of American Innovation is supposed to function as a "nonideological ideas factory capable of attracting top talent from both inside and outside of government, and serving as a conduit with the business, philanthropic and academic communities," according to the Washington Post.
The Innovation Office is tasked with reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs; remodeling workforce-training programs; combating opioid abuse; modernizing technology and data infrastructure of all federal departments and agencies; and developing infrastructure projects such as broadband Internet service for every American. The office can direct that some government functions be privatized, or that existing contracts be awarded to new bidders. The office works with Silicon Valley giants such as Apple Inc., Microsoft, and Tesla.
In March 2020, Kushner began helping to coordinate the White House coronavirus task force, reporting to VP Pence, and
- taking charge of the White House’s effort to supply states with medical equipment such as masks and ventilators. Jared Kushner Takes Center Stage At Coronavirus Press Briefing - Forbes, accessed 4-3-2020
- "Thousands Of Harvard Alumni Implore Jared Kushner For A Meeting", January 31, 2017.
- "Harvard, to the Highest Bidder", Harvard Crimson, October 4, 2006.
- Exclusive Interview: How Jared Kushner Won Trump The White House