From the start, Trump’s has been an unusual presidency. One major departure from tradition was his decision to assign high level White House positions to unqualified close family members, a move which is usually frowned upon in democratic nations.
Now, it appears, he’s finally catching on. According to a report by Vanity Fair, Trump is “pressuring” Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to return to New York City – but partly (or even mostly) to escape bad press:
‘According to two Republicans who have spoken with Trump, the president has also been frustrated with Kushner’s political advice, including his encouragement to back losing Alabama G.O.P. candidate Luther Strange and to fire F.B.I. Director James Comey, which Kushner denies. (For what it’s worth, Kushner’s choice of Strange prevented Trump from the embarrassment of inadvertently supporting Roy Moore.) Trump, according to three people who’ve spoken to him, has advocated for Jared and Ivanka to return to New York in part because they are being damaged by negative press. “He keeps pressuring them to go,” one source close to Kushner told me. ‘
This mirrors and reinforces coverage from POLITICO two months ago reporting Trump’s growing displeasure with Ivanka and Jared’s White House performance, particularly the attention it’s garnered from national media. His ongoing feud with John Kelly and subsequent loss of authority have played a role, too.
‘Now, as Kelly instills a formal organizational chart on top of Trump’s formerly chaotic West Wing, he is still navigating the X-factor of Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s inchoate roles as family members-turned-staffers.
‘It’s not just Kelly who is uncertain of how to make the arrangement work. In recent months, according to multiple administration officials, the president has also been casually surveying people close to him about whether having his family members in the government is creating too much noise.
‘“Baby, you’re getting killed, this is a bad deal,” Trump has told Ivanka Trump, in front of other staffers, after soaking in the criticisms of the role his daughter is playing.
‘He has expressed some of his frustrations with her battered image on Twitter. “When I left Conference Room for short meetings with Japan and other countries, I asked Ivanka to hold seat. Very standard. Angela M agrees!” the president tweeted in July, defending his daughter for taking his seat at the G-20 conference in Hamburg, Germany. “If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother, as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!”
‘Privately, Trump has asked some senior staffers their thoughts on how Kushner and Ivanka Trump can withstand the personal attacks, according to White House officials. Another White House official said the president’s concern about their current roles was not driven by any sense that they were unable to serve appropriately, but out of a desire to protect his daughter and son-in-law.’
As Vanity Fair reports, Kelly’s goal of undermining the broad authority once wielded by Jared Kushner has been successful, limiting his future prospects in the White House.
‘Where this all leaves Kushner in Trump’s ever-changing orbit is a topic that’s being discussed by Republicans close to the White House. During Kelly’s review of West Wing operations over the summer, the chief of staff sought to downsize Kushner’s portfolio, two sources said. In the early days of the administration, sometimes with the help of a small cadre of Ivy League whiz kids who staff his Office of American Innovation, Kushner dreamed up scores of business “councils” that would advise the White House. “The councils are gone,” one West Wing official told me. With some of their purview being whittled away, “they seem lost,” the official added.’
Of course, limited White House authority could end up being the least of Jared’s concerns in the not too distant future. With multiple members of Trump’s campaign already arrested, it’s obvious that Robert Mueller means business. And if Trump goes down thanks to the Mueller probe, it seems somewhat unlikely that Jared will escape scot-free; after all, his hands are probably dirtier than Trump’s.
There’s also evidence he profited to the tune of millions from a company that presented a conflict-of-interest, which, for some reason, was left out of his disclosure forms (he was hiding it).
Or how about the time he had to update his foreign contact disclosure forms, adding more than 100 names?
For Kushner, it’s a family business. His father – a close advisor of his – is a convict with a record for tax evasion, witness tampering, and illegal campaign contributions.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images