Given that he has zero government or foreign policy experience, we can only wonder why the president has granted his son-in-law, Jared Kushner—who is unelected and unconfirmed—unprecedented power in the White House. The Washington Free Beacon reported that White House Senior Adviser, Jared Kushner, is leading an unprecedented effort to meddle in the White House's National Security Council, causing mayhem for senior staff who say the president's son-in-law is interfering in key foreign policy debates, according to Trump administration officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.
This reporter disagrees with National Security Advisor HR McMaster on the subject of Islam, but McMaster does have substantial experience, and appointing a shadow overseer who can supersede him in even the smallest details seems very unwise.
Never before has a White House permitted such a figure to intervene in the NSC, which is traditionally given leeway to investigate foreign policy matters and bring advice to the president.
Senior NSC staff are finding their hands tied when it comes to performing even perfunctory duties, such as talking points and statements on high profile issues that must go through Kushner for approval.
The installation of Dina Powell, a confidant of Kushner's wife Ivanka, to the NSC is said to have been orchestrated by Kushner in order to solidify his power over the foreign policy organization, sources said.
The president has even named Kushner to head a vast, new “Office of Innovation,” whose mission will be “overhauling government bureaucracy.”
But he already had a full plate, including the above, plus “serving as a conduit between Beijing and Washington,” and negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, wrote Fortune Magazine, which said he has “a deep bond” with the president.
He trusts Kushner implicitly.
However, it seems Mr. Kushner and/or his sister betrayed that trust during the weekend of May 6th –7th. The Daily Caller reported that:
“Speaking in Beijing [on Saturday], Nicole Kushner Meyer, sister of senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, encouraged wealthy Chinese investors to invest at least $500,000 in a luxury apartment complex in New Jersey in exchange for EB-5 visas, according to the Washington Post.” The complex is the One Journal Square project.
The DC explained: “The EB-5 visa allows investors to obtain immigration visas if they invest at least $500,000 in projects that create jobs in the U.S. The program has been criticized by both the right and the left because it essentially allows rich foreigners to buy their way into the country rather than go through more traditional channels.”
It’s unclear how many jobs a luxury apartment complex would generate, once built.
The New York Times reported that Meyer told an audience in a ballroom that the project “means a lot to me and my entire family.” She mentioned her brother’s service as chief executive of Kushner Companies, the family business from which he resigned in January, saying he had left to serve in the Trump administration.
According to Reuters: “‘Mr. Kushner has no involvement in the operation of Kushner Companies and divested his interests in the One Journal Square project by selling them to a family trust that he, his wife, and his children are not beneficiaries of, a mechanism suggested by the Office of Government Ethics,’ his lawyer, Blake Roberts of WilmerHale law firm, said in a statement emailed to Reuters by the White House.” He added, “‘As previously stated, he will recuse from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program.’”
Reuters also said, concerning another event in Shanghai, on May 7th, “In a promotional text message seen by Reuters, Qiaowai [the Chinese immigration company that organized the event] made note of Meyer's relationship to Trump and called her the event's ‘heavyweight honored guest.”
Kushner Companies apologized on May 8th for using Kushner’s name. But that wasn't the sole allegation.
We’ll leave it to the Office of Government Ethics to determine if this episode violates Jared’s divestment. Without a doubt, it is improper, bordering on sleazy. It would be shocking if Democrats don’t use this against the president. The question will surely be asked: “Was the president aware of this promotion?” If he says “yes,” he will be endlessly linked with the impropriety—or worse; if he says “No,” he will be compelled to dismiss Kushner or face eternal damnation by the press.
Another unsavory detail about Kushner was revealed in a second Daily Caller article:
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner didn’t include his ownership in a real-estate finance company that makes him business partners with George Soros when filing financial disclosure forms, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The Real Deal, a New York real estate news site, reported in January that Soros provided Cadre —the company owned by Trump’s senior adviser—with a $250 million line of credit.
Kushner’s ownership stake in real-estate startup Cadre makes him business partners with Soros, Peter Thiel, and other billionaires, as well as Goldman Sachs, according to the Journal.
Jamie Gorelick, a lawyer for Kushner, told the Journal that the president’s son-in-law discussed his stake in Cadre with the Office of Government Ethics and also “resigned from Cadre’s board, assigned his voting rights, and reduced his ownership share,” the Journal reported, adding that Kushner is expected to make public a new, revised financial disclosure form.
The Real Deal reported on May 12th that Kushner Company executives, including Ms. Kushner-Meyer would not take part in the Chinese roadshow, going forward and will not take part in sales pitches to investors.
Conservatives will no doubt welcome the expulsion of Kushner—particularly if he takes his wife with him—given that they are both liberals with a strong influence over the president.
Pool photo by Andrew Harrer