It’s Time For The Secretary Of Everything To Step Down

News reports last night confirmed what we already suspected: Jared Kushner is a focus of the Trump-Russia FBI investigation.

There is no one closer to President Trump than Jared Kushner. As son-in-law, top campaign adviser, and now senior White House official, Kushner has unfettered access to national security secrets and the shaping of both domestic and foreign policy.

“From brokering peace in the Middle East, to negotiating with China and Mexico, to overhauling the the federal bureaucracy and infrastructure- the President goes to Jared,” said American Bridge Rapid Response Director Emily Aden. “Kushner should never have had this much power in the first place, but the serious new questions raised by the FBI investigation make it untenable. It’s time for him to step down.”

Background:

NYT: “Kushner Has Emerged As The Most Important Figure In Mr. Trump’s White House Besides The President.” According to the New York Times, “Within the White House, overlapping power centers that have viewed each other with suspicion are working to move past discord from the transition, according to officials. Communication is compartmented among different factions. Mr. Priebus weeks ago began his own outreach to business leaders even as Mr. Kushner was already personally emailing some of them. Mr. Kushner has emerged as the most important figure in Mr. Trump’s White House besides the president. He has told several people that all things on nearly every topic ‘run through me,’ according to two people with direct knowledge. He had previously sought to limit Ms. Conway’s influence, according to insiders, although she consistently has Mr. Trump’s ear.” [New York Times, 1/27/17]

Vanity Fair: “Foreign Leaders Began Communicating With Kushner More Than Six Months Ago When It Became Clear That His Father-In-Law Would Be The Nominee.” According to Vanity Fair, :And then there is the foreign-policy responsibilities that he has taken on, as a millennial New Jersey-native who has spent the entirety of his professional life until now running a real estate firm and a weekly newspaper, The New York Observer, about the goings-on in New York culture and society. The source familiar with the situation told me that Kushner is not jockeying for power or trying to be a shadow secretary of state. Foreign leaders began communicating with Kushner more than six months ago when it became clear that his father-in-law would be the nominee, and the relationships he’s built with dozens of them have carried over into the White House, the source said. Part of the reason they come to him is the familiarity, and another part is that they know Kushner will be close to the Oval as long as Trump is still there.” [Vanity Fair, 1/27/17]

Bloomberg HEADLINE: “China Courts Ivanka, Jared Kushner to Smooth Ties With Trump” [Bloomberg, 2/07/17]

Kushner Went To Iraq For Meetings On Anti-ISIS Strategy. According to the New York Times, “Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, landed in Iraq on Monday, military officials said, visiting the country as the American military is aiding Iraqi forces in their brutal fight to retake Mosul from the Islamic State. It was unclear what Mr. Kushner, who has been expanding his reach in his father-in-law’s administration, planned to gain from the trip. Mr. Kushner, 36, who serves as a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, was invited by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman for the chairman, said early Monday that the general had arrived in Iraq for meetings, including with coalition officials, accompanied by Mr. Kushner and Thomas P. Bossert, the president’s homeland security adviser. The general invited Mr. Kushner and Mr. Bossert to accompany him ‘to receive an update on the status of the counter-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria,’ Captain Hicks said.” [New York Times, 4/02/17]

Politico Magazine: Kushner “Has Been Tasked With Solving One Of The Most Intractable Problems In The World, Bedeviling Republican And Democratic Administrations For Decades: Brokering Peace In The Middle East.” According to Politico Magazine, “Today, Kushner, 36, a former New York City real estate developer with a serene smile and bottomless ambition but no foreign policy experience, has been tasked with solving one of the most intractable problems in the world, bedeviling Republican and Democratic administrations for decades: brokering peace in the Middle East. Kushner, an Orthodox Jew from a tight-knit New Jersey family that has given money to support settlements in the West Bank and made political donations to many Israeli causes, will be at the table with Trump and Netanyahu on Wednesday for their first meeting in the White House, according to a senior administration official. ‘All my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal in the world to make,’ Trump told a crowd of donors at the Candlelight Dinner on the eve of his inauguration last month. Turning to his son-in-law, he said, ‘If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.’” [Politico Magazine, 2/11/17]

Kushner Was Given The Responsibility To Negotiate With Mexico. According to the Associated Press, “One week into office, President Donald Trump was trying to clean up his first international incident. The president shifted a jam-packed schedule Friday to make room for an hourlong phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who had abruptly snubbed the new president by canceling a visit. Trump’s team had appeared to respond by threatening a hefty border tax on Mexican imports. By the end of the conversation, Trump had tasked his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner — a real estate executive with no national security experience — with managing the ongoing dispute, according to an administration official with knowledge of the call. […] Kushner, who already wields enormous power in the White House, is expected to work through the dispute with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray. The two men, who know each other from the financial circles, also worked together to arrange Trump’s surprise visit to Mexico during the presidential campaign.” [Associated Press, 1/28/17]

Kushner Was Part Of The Decision To Authorize The Navy SEAL Team Raid In Yemen. According to the New York Times, “Just five days after taking office, over dinner with his newly installed secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Trump was presented with the first of what will be many life-or-death decisions: whether to approve a commando raid that risked the lives of American Special Operations forces and foreign civilians alike. President Barack Obama’s national security aides had reviewed the plans for a risky attack on a small, heavily guarded brick home of a senior Qaeda collaborator in a mountainous village in a remote part of central Yemen. But Mr. Obama did not act because the Pentagon wanted to launch the attack on a moonless night and the next one would come after his term had ended. With two of his closest advisers, Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, joining the dinner at the White House along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Mr. Trump approved sending in the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, hoping the raid early last Sunday would scoop up cellphones and laptop computers that could yield valuable clues about one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist groups. Vice President Mike Pence and Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, also attended the dinner.” [New York Times, 2/01/17]

Kushner Was Appointed To Lead The White House Office Of American Innovation. According to the Washington Post, “President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions. The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.” [Washington Post, 3/26/17]

Kushner To Help Lead Trump’s Cybersecurity Initiative. According to NBC, “President Trump was expected to sign an executive order Tuesday outlining his approach to protecting federal agencies from hackers. The White House said Tuesday afternoon that the signing had been postponed, but did not give a reason. Trump met earlier in the day with cybersecurity experts at the White House, during which they discussed the president’s goals. […] To his immediate right sat his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who Trump said would be leading the initiative, along with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and homeland security adviser Tom Bossert. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, sat on the other side of Kushner.” [NBC, 1/31/17]

Kushner To Modernize Federal Networks And Electronic Infrastructure. According to Politico, “The wait may finally be over. At the end of this week, President Donald Trump is likely to sign an executive order kicking off several cybersecurity initiatives, according to multiple people familiar with the plans. But as Cory and Eric wrote for Pros over the weekend, a major piece of the Trump administration’s cyber agenda — IT modernization — won’t be in the executive order. Instead, two sources said, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will helm a separate executive order on modernizing federal networks and computer infrastructure.” [Politico, 4/24/17]

Kushner Was Part of A Group Advising Trump On Tax Reform. According to Politico, “Trump will huddle on tax reform today with Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; his chief strategist Steve Bannon; son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner; Shahira Knight from the National Economic Council; and Craig Phillips and Justin Muzinich, both from Treasury.” [Politico, 3/30/17]

Buzzfeed: “Jared Kushner, Son-In-Law And Senior Adviser To President Donald Trump, Has Been Dispatched By The White House To Discuss Criminal Justice Reform Issues With Key Senators.” According to Buzzfeed, Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has been dispatched by the White House to discuss criminal justice reform issues with key senators, BuzzFeed News has learned. Kushner met with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin on Capitol Hill Thursday. Kushner was spotted entering Grassley’s office on Thursday morning. An aide familiar with the meeting confirmed that Kushner is speaking with the senators about the reform legislation, which stalled last Congress despite early optimism that it could pass. Grassley, chair of the Judiciary committee, and Durbin, the Democratic whip, have said they plan to eventually revive the issue with a similar bill this Congress. Sen. Mike Lee, another vocal advocate for criminal justice reform, entered Grassley’s office a few minutes after Kushner. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.” [Buzzfeed, 3/30/17]

Kushner Was Involved In Discussions With Paul Ryan About Health Care Policy. According to Politico Magazine, “Kushner, so far, seems very much the opposite—a big-picture guy who avoids getting bogged down in the weeds. And he’s taken the same approach in other areas of his expansive, virtually unlimited portfolio within Trump’s world. In a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office about health care, for instance, Kushner was not concerned with granular policy details, according to an attendee. Instead, seated at a table alongside Vice President Mike Pence and White House advisers Gary Cohn and Rick Dearborn, Kushner’s main concern was the president’s overall bottom line: How can we say it’s a better plan? How are we going to say we lowered costs?” [Politico Magazine, 2/11/17]