Tag Archives: Jared Kushner

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.

What? A back-channel phone line with Kremlin?

I know Donald Trump’s son-in-law is entitled to an innocence presumption.

Jared Kushner has now been shoved to the front row of a growing investigation into what the Trump presidential campaign may have done in connection with the Russian government.

The latest live grenade to explode deals with a report that Kushner and the Russians sought to set up a secret line through which the Trump team could communicate with the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian government in the heart of Moscow.

If it’s true — and I’ll presume that special counsel Robert Mueller will make that determination in due course — then it’s fair to ask: What would Kushner seek to keep secret from normal communications channels?

Some analysts are suggesting that this latest report might be a “game change” in the growing controversy. (I am going to refrain from calling it a “scandal” until we know a whole lot more.)

The Mueller investigation is going to determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump says “no.” His buddy, Russian President Vladimir Putin, says “nyet.”

If this latest revelation is a game-changer, then I’m believing that Donald J. Trump’s tenure as president is about to enter some seriously tenuous territory.

Kushner, under scrutiny, to lead WH ‘war room’

How does this work?

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has been identified as the subject of an FBI investigation into “the Russia thing” that is bedeviling the Trump administration.

Now we hear that Kushner is going to lead a team effort within the White House to combat the myriad questions that keep dogging the president, his campaign and his senior White House staff — of which Kushner is a member!

How in the world does Kushner separate himself from the very probe while leading the effort to fight it?

To be fair, the FBI is likely to look into what Kushner knows about the Russia matter, not what he has done … allegedly.

The young man is about to undertake a multi-tasking effort that might not have any equal in American political history.

By all means, yank Kushner’s top-secret clearance

Congressional Democrats are making a reasonable demand of the Trump administration, which is to strip White House adviser Jared Kushner of his top-secret security clearance … at least for the time being.

It’s not a simple task, of course. Kushner happens to be the son-in-law to the president of the United States. He’s also under “scrutiny” by the FBI, which is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into I’ve grown fond of calling the “Russia thing.”

That “thing” involves potential contact between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. Kushner happens to be a principal actor in all that drama.

Trump hired him to be a senior adviser. Kushner doesn’t get paid but he has unfettered access to the president. He does not have any prior government experience. He has zero credentials to deal with foreign government leaders, yet the president considers him “qualified” to be a liaison between the administration and governments in the Middle East.

He’s also known to be a successful businessman. He’s had plenty of exposure to Russian business executive and government officials. Has he crossed any lines that might pose serious trouble for his father-in-law? That’s what the FBI is investigating.

Until the FBI reaches its conclusion, and if that conclusion clears Kushner, he has no business sitting at the president’s side during high-level meetings. He shouldn’t be privy to information reserved for the president and his national security team.

Let’s allow the FBI probe to continue. If the young man skates into the clear, fine. If not … well, then we’ve got a whole set of other problems with which to deal.

Until then, Kushner should be sitting at the kids’ table — in another room away from where national secrets are being discussed.

‘Scrutiny’ brings more pressure to Trump

My handy-dandy American Heritage dictionary defines “scrutiny” this way: A close, careful examination.

So, what does that mean for Donald J. Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is now under “scrutiny” by the FBI?

It means the feds are going to look closely and carefully at what his contacts with the Russian government might have meant to his father-in-law’s presidential campaign and the presidency to which he was elected.

This is a serious development in the still-burgeoning controversies that are threatening to swallow whole the Trump administration.

Media are reporting tonight that the FBI is looking at Kushner’s role in the Trump administration. Does “scrutiny” mean the FBI suspects Kushner of doing something wrong? No. It does mean that the FBI thinks he might have pertinent information to the investigation that is underway at many levels.

The Russia relationship is baffling in the extreme. Donald Trump cannot bring himself to speak negatively of Vladimir Putin. He trashes political foes here at home; he is understandably quick to pull the verbal trigger on assorted international bad guys — such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Russia and Putin, though, remain ensconced in a no-criticism zone. Kushner appears to be as close to the “Russia thing” as anyone associated with the president’s inner circle.

I would hate to be anyone close to Donald Trump at this moment. He got the news while overseas, where he is the middle of a moderately successful series of meetings with friendly heads of state.

The president is going to come home, though, to a spate of even more bad news. I believe the FBI scrutiny of Jared Kushner is going to keep the president up at night.

That didn’t take long

Media are reporting possible big shakeups within the White House high command.

The White House — no surprise here — is denying it. Yet the signs seem to be unmistakable.

Senior strategist Steven Bannon has lost his job on the National Security Council. He’s fighting with Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus appears to be his way out … along with Bannon.

Trump’s White House flack machine no doubt is considering all this to be “fake news.”

But is it?

Trump’s executive machinery has been creaking along ever since the president took office. There can be no doubt about what we’ve all witnessed.

Shakeup taking shape in White House

At some level, the notion that Priebus would be placed into some kind of shakeup bubble troubles me. I’ve considered Priebus — the former Republican Party national chairman — to be one of the few grownups Trump brought in. But he might be shown the door. Why? My guess is that he cannot stop the reports of palace intrigue within the White House.

Chiefs of staff are supposed to keep a tight rein on everyone else within the West Wing. That’s how the best of them function. Jim Baker did so within the Bush 41 administration; Dick Cheney ran a tight ship during the Ford administration.

Trump, though, brings a whole new dynamic to executive branch governance. He has surrounded himself with amateurs in many posts. Yes, he has some fine men and women serving in his Cabinet.

This notion, though, of putting his son-in-law — not to mention his own daughter, Ivanka — in the middle of policy decisions creates a tension that goes far beyond the “creative” kind that can work in an executive’s favor.

The president has just encountered his first major foreign policy crisis and answered it with clarity and precision with the air strikes against Syrian targets. He’ll need strong, steady leadership and counsel within his top White House staff if he is going to move forward.

If he’s going to shake things up in the West Wing, he’d better do it quickly and tell his flacks to stop denying the increasingly obvious.

Time to lube the ‘machine,’ Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump’s “fine-tuned machine” has been misfiring almost since the jalopy rolled into the White House.

Now we hear that senior policy adviser Steven Bannon and the president’s son-in-law/adviser Jared Kushner are at each other’s throats almost daily.

Is this how a “fine-tuned machine” runs, Mr. President? Many of us out here in the peanut gallery don’t think that’s the case.

Trump pledged “best people”

The president vowed to surround himself with the “best people” ever assembled to run the government’s executive branch.

Bannon came on board after serving as editor of Breitbart News, the ultra-right wing media outlet. Kushner married well, as he is Ivanka Trump’s husband. Neither man has government experience. They’re both strong-willed, however, which might explain why they are fighting constantly.

Here’s another wrinkle.

Until this week, Bannon had a seat on the principals committee of the National Security Council. Then the president moved him off the panel.

Bannon’s been fighting with Kushner for weeks. The president loves his daughter and doesn’t want her husband injured while butting heads with Bannon.

Hmmm. Is there linkage between the bickering inside the West Wing and Bannon’s demotion from the principals committee?

Break out the lube oil, Mr. President.

Didn’t they enact an anti-nepotism law?

President-elect John F. Kennedy called the media together shortly after his election in 1960 to announce his choice for attorney general.

It would be his brother, Robert, who never had practiced law privately. He had served as general counsel to a Senate committee chaired by the infamous Joseph McCarthy and later worked with his brother in the Senate.

JFK joked that RFK needed a bit of experience before he would become a successful lawyer, so he named him AG.

The appointment caused some consternation at the time, even though RFK would go on to become a highly effective attorney general.

In 1967, Congress enacted a law that banned such nepotism at the highest levels of government.

Then came Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. What does he do? He places his daughter Ivanka into a West Wing office, where she now has an actual White House job. Oh, and her husband, Jared Kushner, also now works as a senior policy adviser.

Neither of them has government experience. Neither has any political seasoning.

Trumps take over the White House

But hey, what’s the problem? Ivanka won’t take a salary, which I guess serves as Dad’s dodge in giving her a government job.

However, didn’t Congress have enough fear about nepotism 50 years ago to approve a law to prohibit it?

I don’t believe that concern has lessened.