Tag Archives: Jared Kushner

Peace seems to slip away in Israel

They dedicated the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem today.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was all smiles. So were Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. So was mega Republican campaign donor Sheldon Adelsen. And so were others in the large crowd.

But …

There was a good bit of unhappiness at this occasion. Palestinians died today while trying to enter Israel from Gaza. There were riots. Protests mounted all across the country and the region.

The way I see it, peace between Israel and the Palestinians appears farther away — not closer together.

Donald J. Trump vowed to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem while he ran for president. Once elected, he delivered on the campaign pledge. This move, though, flies in the face of what most of our allies wanted.

Jerusalem happens to be a holy city for Jews, Christians and, oh yes, Muslims. Go to the Old City and you find it divided into four quarters (the Armenians comprise the fourth quarter of the walled city).

Inside the old walled city you find the Western Wall, the Church of the Sepulchre and the Dome of the Rock. All three sites symbolize the three great religions I just mentioned.

The symbolism of the embassy relocation has inflamed tensions between Jews and Muslims.

Which makes me wonder: What in the world did the president expect would happen when the day arrived finally for the embassy to open for business?

Isn’t the presidential son-in-law, Kushner, supposed to be the lead guy on this peace initiative? How in the world does the region achieve the long sought after “two-state solution” with an independent Palestine function alongside Israel with this kind of violence erupting?

I am afraid today’s events have taken the world a large step away from peace in the Holy Land.

POTUS has yet another bad week; see ‘Jared Kushner’

How can we count the ways that the president of the United States can experience truly bad weeks?

This one has been a serious downer.

His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, gets his security clearance downgraded because he doesn’t have the top-secret designation he needed to handle sensitive documents; Kushner is a high-end senior adviser in the Donald Trump administration.

There’s more.

White House communications director Hope Hicks resigned this week after telling U.S. senators that part of her job was to tell “little white lies” on behalf of her boss, the president. She said her testimony had nothing to do with her resignation. Sure thing, young lady. The president backed her up. But, hey, the timing looks so suspicious.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions got taken down by the president because the AG is using lawyers from outside his department to examine alleged bias in granting security clearances. Trump tweeted that Sessions’s actions are “disgraceful.”

Then, as a capper, Trump tweeted some gnarly remarks about actor/comedian Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him on “Saturday Night Live.” So very “presidential,” yes, Mr. President?

All the while, it looks as though special counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on Trump’s potential collusion with Russian agents seeking to interfere in our election process, which Trump keeps denying.

Analyses keep suggesting that Trump has yet to get a handle on the mechanics of governing, the task of administering the executive branch of government, let alone hiring competent staff who can withstand the intense public scrutiny that goes with the job in Washington, D.C.

Has the president lost control of the “fine-tuned machine” he boasted about a month after his inauguration? It looks like it to me.

Chaos and confusion, folks? It’s all there. On full display. For all the world to see.

This is how you “make America great again”? Umm. I don’t think so.

Kushner still has no business doing what he’s doing

Say what you want about Jared Kushner, the young man certainly “married up.”

As the late President Reagan used to joke about his own marriage to Nancy, Kushner enjoys the perks of marrying well. Why, his wife Ivanka’s father used to be a mere billionaire business tycoon. Now he’s the president of the United States.

What did the president do when he took office? He brought his daughter and son-in-law into his inner circle, gave his daughter some policy advisory role and entrusted Kushner with coordinating our nation’s effort to find a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East.

A problem emerged. Kushner didn’t have the proper security clearance to handle the material he saw regularly. Hey, he had as much diplomatic and political experience as his father-in-law; that would be none.

White House chief of staff John Kelly this week reduced Kushner’s access to this material. He now is denied access to the hush-hush stuff he’d been seeing. That’s a good thing. It’s not enough.

Kushner needs to be shown the door. He doesn’t belong in the White House, let alone handling the work he’s been given.

However, as one former Trump campaign and transition insider put it, he is “Mr. Ivanka Trump.” Which means he’s got the job for as long he remains married to the president’s daughter.

Weird, man. Weird.

No dirt on Hillary? Really!

Let me try to keep this straight.

Donald J. Trump Jr. accepts an invitation to meet with a Russian government operative who tells him she’s got some dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party nominee for president of the United States.

Don Jr. goes to the meeting along with his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, then the campaign chairman for Don’s dad, Donald J. Trump Sr., the Republican presidential nominee.

He meets with the lawyer/government operative. What does Don Jr. get out of it? He says nothing came of it. There was no dirt of any use to the Trump campaign.

In other words, Hillary was clean.

The story, of course, isn’t entirely that the Russians didn’t have the goods on Clinton; it is that Trump the Younger thought they did and that he “loved it.” He didn’t call the FBI to rat out the Russian government. Indeed, the only grownup from the Trump team — Manafort — didn’t bother to blow the whistle, either. Oh, no. Don Jr. was accepting “normal” opposition research — from a hostile government that was hacking into our electoral process, undermining our democratic system.

As for the Hillary story, the Russians came up with as much actionable dirt on the Democratic nominee as congressional Republican investigators were able to find over the course of several years. That would be, um, nothing, man!

What a coincidence!

Bush ethics lawyer: Why not give Putin clearance, too?

Richard Painter teaches law at the University of Minnesota.

He once served as ethics adviser to President George W. Bush, so his Republican credentials are well-known. However, he’s demonstrating that ethical conduct ought to ignore partisan consideration.

Professor Painter is furious, fuming, outraged over what he believes is a lack of ethical decorum permeating Donald J. Trump’s administration. Exhibit A: the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Painter believes Kushner should surrender his top-secret White House security clearance because of his numerous contacts with Russian government officials who might have been involved in that Russian hacking and their efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

Painter said via Twitter that Kushner’s clearance needs to be revoked, but if the government is going to allow the young man to keep it, then it should just give one to Russian President Vladimir Putin, too.

Check out The Hill report.

Painter has been making the rounds for several months commenting on Donald J. Trump. He isn’t a fan. Perhaps he owes his antagonism to the president’s vocal criticism of President Bush’s handling of the Iraq War. It might have something to do with the insults that Trump hurled at the former president’s brother, Jeb, during the 2016 GOP presidential primary campaign.

Whatever. Professor Painter isn’t holding back.

I cannot blame him for demanding that Donald Trump seek to develop some understanding that “government ethics” need not be an oxymoron.

Ivanka steps in … way over her head?

Ivanka Trump went to work over the weekend with her father, the president of the United States.

Why, she even got to sit at the grownups’ table during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The presence of this unqualified individual at the table did not go unnoticed by many of Donald Trump’s fellow world leaders.

The custom at meetings such as this is for a head of state to summon a senior staffer or someone with some clout to sit in while “the boss” steps away. Does Ivanka fit that bill?

Does the first daughter have any expertise in, say, anything related to geopolitics or international economics? Let me think about that. Umm. No. None. Zero.

As Politico reported: “U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley defended the first daughter’s actions Saturday, stressing that she has focused on important issues like female entrepreneurship, poverty and famine.”

Politico went on: “‘She’s got her certain issues that she focuses on and when those things come up then that’s where she is,’ the ambassador said during an interview with CBS set to air Sunday, adding that the first daughter is ‘very well accepted nationally and internationally.'”

I think perhaps Ambassador Haley is spinning that just a bit.

Indeed, why couldn’t she have taken the president’s place at the table?

The president has placed far too much clout in his daughter’s hands. For that matter, he has done the same with Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, the young man with zero foreign policy experience but who now is entrusted to broker a Middle East peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Good … grief!

Ivanka’s brief stint at the G20 meeting serves only to demonstrate — yet again! — that her father doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Kushner, Ivanka get stiffed by POTUS/Dad

Just when you thought Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner were deputy presidents of the United States, the actual president stiffs them on their staunch support of the Paris Accord aimed at dealing with climate change.

What gives? Oh, I think I know, actually.

The nationalist wing of the White House inner circle got to the president; it had his ear for the final time before announcing Thursday that he would pull the United States out of the worldwide alliance to fight the planet’s changing climate and the consequences it is bringing.

So much, then, for Ivanka and her husband’s legendary influence over the president. Frankly, I stand with them — and against Trump and his nationalist buddies — in this crazy development.

The president’s daughter and son-in-law weren’t alone in their support of the climate agreement. National security adviser H.R. McMaster wanted to stay involved; so did Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; same with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. I should add, too, that a number of key Republicans in and out of public office wanted the president to stay the course.

No can do, he said.

The issue is American jobs, which the president believes would be lost because this country would work with other nations in seeking to curb the causes of global warming and climate change.

What … utter … crap!

Jared Kushner is no RFK

I keep hearing chatter that compares Jared Kushner’s lack of experience to Robert F. Kennedy.

I must now take up the cudgel for my first political hero … and it’s not Jared Kushner.

Kushner is under investigation by the FBI and Congress for something related to his father-in-law’s 2016 presidential campaign. He allegedly had some contact with Russian government officials that might be improper, it not illegal.

One of the arguments being offered is that Kushner doesn’t have any experience with government or public policy. They note that his father-in-law, the president, got around federal anti-nepotism laws when he appointed Kushner to be a senior policy adviser in the West Wing of the White House.

It’s the RFK thing all over again, some of them insist.

Hold the phone!

President-elect John F. Kennedy picked his brother to be attorney general shortly after winning the 1960 election. JFK joked at the time that a government job would give his brother some valuable experience when he decided to go into law.

I want to make a couple of points about Robert Kennedy.

One is that he had government experience. He had served as legal counsel to a Senate committee chaired by the infamous Sen. Joe McCarthy. He also served as a legal staffer working with his brother, Sen. JFK, on  a Senate committee that looked deeply into organized crime within the labor movement.

After that, Bobby Kennedy then managed his brother’s presidential campaign. Sen. Kennedy won the presidency by a narrow popular vote and Electoral College margin over Vice President Richard Nixon.

Compared to the absence of any government exposure as it regards Kushner, RFK brought much more experience to his job as U.S. attorney general.

And, indeed, he used his Justice Department office as a bully pulpit against organized crime and in the fight to enact civil rights legislation. Oh, and he also played a significant role in heading off nuclear war with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

With that, I shall now cease listening to any further comparison between Jared Kushner and Robert F. Kennedy.

There is no comparison to be made, except to point out how utterly unfit Kushner is to perform the duties to which he’s been assigned.

Welcome home, Mr. President; about those changes

Donald Trump and his presidential entourage have returned home from a nine-day journey abroad. It won’t be the warmest welcome he’s ever had.

The president reportedly is pondering some big White House staff changes.

I believe I’ll take the liberty — as a taxpaying, red-blooded American patriot — to offer one suggestion for the president to ponder.

Tell your son-in-law to clear out his West Wing office and stay away while he’s under investigation by the FBI.

Jared Kushner has emerged as a principal subject as the FBI and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, pursue the “Russia thing.” The young man hasn’t been accused officially of doing anything wrong. I get that. I also get that as a “person of interest,” he is being examined likely for what he knows about alleged Russian involvement in U.S. governmental matters. He’s also entitled to the presumption of innocence.

But the young man has zero government experience. He has zero public service experience. He married well, though. His wife’s father is a zillionaire real estate mogul who now happens to be the president of the United States.

Until we get to the bottom of what Kushner knows, when he knew it, what he allegedly did and whether the reporting from the Washington Post, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, NBC and CNN is bogus or if it’s for real, then he ought to step away from his myriad responsibilities.

The media have reported some extremely troublesome matters regarding Kushner. The most troubling appears to be reports that he sought to set up back-channel communications between the Russian embassy in the United States and the Kremlin, using Russian communications equipment to boot!

Holy mackerel, man!

Kushner has this strange portfolio of duties: Middle East negotiator, troubleshooter, political adviser to the president. He has no experience at any of it. I truly question what value he actually brings to the White House inner circle.

So, Mr. President, start there. Jared Kushner can find something to do that has nothing to do with running the country. That’s a job better left to those who know what they’re doing.

If Hillary needed to be ‘locked up’ over e-mails …

Let’s assume for a moment the very worst about Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to Donald J. Trump.

The Washington Post is reporting that Kushner suggested to Russian government officials that the Trump transition team set up a secret line of communication between the Russian embassy to the United States and the Kremlin.

OK, to be completely fair — the story might not be true. My sense, though, is that it’s there is something significant happening to the Trump administration.

So, if the Post is correct and Kushner was able to secure a back-channel line between the Trump team and the Kremlin — using Russian communications equipment — how does that compare with what the Trump campaign alleged about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of her personal e-mail server?

Do you remember the chants of “Lock her up!” coming from those Trump campaign rallies? Do you recall that disgraced former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn helped lead those chants himself?

What Kushner is reported to have sought makes Hillary’s use of personal e-mail accounts look so, so quaint.

Think of this. The Post is reporting that Kushner wanted to use Russian intelligence equipment to transmit communications between the Trump team and the highest level of government in Moscow. Did this young man have a clue that Russians monitor carefully all communications between their embassies and the Kremlin?

I guess we now can understand a good bit more clearly why the FBI had declared Kushner to be a “person of interest” in its investigation of what the president called “the Russia thing.”

The Russia thing is growing a lot of legs.