Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump appointed North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows as his new White House chief of staff, and according to POLITICO, Meadows has already run into a problem in the form of Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner’s commanding influence in the White House. Kushner, like Trump, had no government experience prior to his current position, and he’s frequently failed to enact significant progress on a slew of issues that he’s been tasked with, but his portfolio of responsibilities has continued to grow anyway. Now, he’s overshadowing a new White House chief of staff who’s spent just weeks on the job.
What could go wrong? A lot could go wrong, obviously. Recent examples of Kushner’s commanding presence include the installation of his ally Derek Lyons as the head of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, although Meadows had floated longtime Trump adviser Stephen Miller as a possibility for the role.
‘Six weeks into his tenure as chief of staff, Meadows is adjusting to the ways of a White House, where the president often announces policy changes with little discussion and many decisions become opportunities for various factions to advance their agendas. And Kushner is the figure who has consistently loomed large over those choices, according to nine current and former senior administration officials and Republicans close to the White House, most of whom did not want to use their name to speak freely.’
How exactly is Meadows or any other official in the Trump administration expected to accomplish substantive change when so much of it has to run through the staggeringly inexperienced Jared Kushner? Among other areas of interest, Kushner has recently been tasked with helping lead the White House’s Coronavirus response. His work has produced little in the way of positive results that consist of personal protective equipment shortages and other similar problems getting actually resolved. Kushner “turned to inexperienced outsiders & private equity firms to secure hospital equipment,” one reporter notes.
Scoop: Last week started with the reveal that Jared Kushner turned to inexperienced outsiders & private equity firms to secure hospital equipment. Now he’s received a 29 page plan to overhaul Social Security & Medicare created by… the US State Department https://t.co/Xz53CNj3oq pic.twitter.com/XBvLiEuANN
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) May 10, 2020
Leon Panetta, who served as chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s White House, offered a dismal take on the current state of affairs at the White House with Donald Trump in charge. He commented:
‘You’ve got to tiptoe around the White House to make sure you’re not only… not offending the president, but not offending somebody who is close to the president. You could wind up having both of them blame you for things that go wrong. It just makes it very difficult. That job is tough enough without having to worry about personal relationships.’
Personal relationships constitute a bulk of what Trump operates on. As such, he has frequently obsessed over his public image amidst the Coronavirus crisis, ignoring other issues of public health and safety. Someone with actual experience could have been tasked to help lead Coronavirus response in Kushner’s place, but instead, the president’s inexperienced son-in-law got the job, and months into the crisis, it remains unclear how stable that the U.S. supply of items like personal protective equipment and Coronavirus tests really is.