Kush­ner moves to Trump mar­gins

Marlborough Express - - WORLD -

UNITED STATES: He was once the power be­hind the throne, Don­ald Trump’s most in­flu­en­tial ad­viser. But Jared Kush­ner, the pres­i­dent’s son-in-law, now finds him­self on the mar­gins, fight­ing for rel­e­vance.

The 37-year-old scion of a New York prop­erty dy­nasty is up against two much older and tougher fig­ures hard­ened in the US Ma­rine Corps and pub­lic ser­vice.

On one front, he faces spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller, 73, who was wounded and hon­oured for his gal­lantry as a ma­rine pla­toon com­man­der in Viet­nam be­fore a le­gal ca­reer as a pros­e­cu­tor crowned by 12 years as di­rec­tor of the FBI.

On the other, he is locked in a fierce con­fronta­tion with the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, 67, a for­mer Ma­rine Corps gen­eral who views Kush­ner as cal­low and med­dling.

It is not the only bat­tle roil­ing the Trump team. A Repub­li­can close to the ad­min­is­tra­tion said: ‘‘It’s chaos in the White House, a daily Game of Thrones in which no al­liance is per­ma­nent and noone knows where the axe will fall next or who will blud­geon who.’’

Kush­ner has strug­gled to fend off Mueller. Ev­ery as­pect of his con­tacts with Rus­sians and his fi­nan­cial deal­ings with for­eign­ers is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. He has been fined for not turn­ing over fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure forms on time and crit­i­cised for fail­ing to in­clude all his as­sets. The sprawl­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion has meant that Kush­ner’s se­cu­rity clear­ance has been held up for more than a year.

He has an un­paid role as ‘‘se­nior ad­viser to the pres­i­dent’’. His port­fo­lio runs from crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form to Mid­dle East ne­go­ti­a­tions. As a top for­eign pol­icy ad­viser, he re­ceives the highly clas­si­fied pres­i­den­tial daily brief, pre­sented by the CIA di­rec­tor. He has been able to ac­cess the US govern­ment’s most sen­si­tive se­crets, thanks to an in­terim se­cu­rity clear­ance, but that is due to lapse after a crack­down by Kelly.

White House sources have said Kush­ner might leave the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion if he has to en­dure the hu­mil­i­a­tion of be­ing blocked from see­ing clas­si­fied ma­te­rial. He and his wife, Ivanka, have strug­gled to set­tle in Washington and have long con­tem­plated a re­turn to Man­hat­tan.

They were de­scribed by Amer­i­can GQ mag­a­zine last week as hav­ing ‘‘lost a good deal of their lus­tre since the early days of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’’. Rel­e­gat­ing the cou­ple to just 37 in its list of the top 50 most in­flu­en­tial peo­ple in Washington - one place above Vladimir Putin - the mag­a­zine com­mented: ‘‘Even the pres­i­dent is said to have wor­ried about the beat­ing the young pair, es­pe­cially his beloved daugh­ter, have taken in the press for their screw-ups and fail­ures.’’

There have been in­di­ca­tions that Trump him­self has lost some con­fi­dence in Kush­ner, who rec­om­mended last May that the pres­i­dent should fire the FBI di­rec­tor, James Comey. Trump’s sack­ing of Comey trig­gered the ap­point­ment of Mueller as spe­cial coun­sel to look into al­le­ga­tions of col­lu­sion with Rus­sia. Steve Ban­non - Trump’s for­mer chief strate­gist, and him­self a vic­tim of the White House wars - de­scribed it as pos­si­bly the big­gest mis­take ‘‘maybe in modern po­lit­i­cal his­tory’’.

Last week, Trump praised his son-in-law as ‘‘truly out­stand­ing’’ and ‘‘very suc­cess­ful when he was in the pri­vate sec­tor’’ but point­edly de­clined to in­ter­vene to grant him a per­ma­nent se­cu­rity clear­ance, which is a pres­i­den­tial power. ‘‘That will be up to Gen­eral Kelly,’’ he said. ‘‘He re­spects Jared a lot, and he’ll make that call. I won’t make that call.’’

Yet Kelly is also fight­ing to keep his job. Spec­u­la­tion is rife that he might re­sign or be fired - even as Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion threat­ens to en­gulf Trump’s pres­i­dency.

On Satur­day, Rick Gates, a for­mer se­nior of­fi­cial on the Trump elec­tion cam­paign in­dicted by Mueller, pleaded guilty to con­spir­acy and mak­ing false state­ments. He is ex­pected to give ev­i­dence against his for­mer boss Paul Manafort, 68, who was one of Trump’s cam­paign man­agers. Both had ex­ten­sive deal­ings with Rus­sian-backed fig­ures in Ukraine. The pros­e­cu­tors last week out­lined a ‘‘scheme’’ in which the pair al­legedly laun­dered 30 mil­lion, failed to pay taxes for al­most a decade and fraud­u­lently se­cured more than $20m in loans.

A se­nior for­mer US jus­tice depart­ment of­fi­cial told The Sun­day Times that Mueller’s plan was that a plea deal with Gates would help force Manafort to co­op­er­ate and to tes­tify against Trump him­self. Mueller has no power to charge the pres­i­dent, but if the Democrats win back con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Novem­ber’s mid-term elec­tions Trump may well face im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings. - Sun­day Times

Jared Kush­ner

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.