Jared Kushner Quietly Transfers ‘Solve Middle East Crisis’ To Next Week’s To-Do List
The Onion, Mar 28 2017
FASCHINGSTEIN – Admitting there was simply too much on his plate right now to bring stability to the fractious region by end of day Friday, Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner quietly moved the task “solve Middle East crisis” to his to-do list for next week, sources reported Tuesday. Acknowledging that he was just “too swamped” at the moment with policy reports and real estate development meetings to resolve the numerous wars, land disputes and centuries-old ethnic and religious tensions that have long raged among the 350,000,000 residents of the geopolitical hotspot, Kushner reportedly said as he crossed out the task on his pocket day planner and rewrote it on the following page:
Ushering in lasting peace across the Mideast is definitely still a big priority for me, but given everything else I’ve got going on right now, I’m just going to need to bump it to next week when I have a little more time on my hands. I was really hoping to at least knock out the Arab-Israeli conflict before the weekend, but this week’s kind of gotten out of hand. It’ll be fine, though! I’ll just carve out an hour or two next week, hunker down in my office, and sort it all out then! If I can push back a couple business calls, I can definitely get this whole Middle East situation ironed out by Wednesday, or Thursday at the latest.
At press time, Kushner reportedly pushed “solve Middle East crisis” back an additional 30 minutes after deciding it would be better to get “fix Pindostan’s opioid epidemic” out of the way first.
Jared Kushner Flies To Iraq With JCoS Dunford for Strategy Briefing
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Apr 3 2017
Jared Kushner reportedly arrived in Baghdad this morning, in a surprise visit with JCoS Dunford, to meet Pindosi and Iraqi officials and to receive military briefings on the fight against Daesh. Kushner is the first member of Trump’s inner circle to visit the country, currently engaged in a fight to drive the militant group from Mosul and other areas. The visit comes at a critical time, as the DoD crafts the new administration’s strategy to combat Daesh in Iraq, Syria and beyond. As the WSJ points out, Kushner is a relative newcomer to foreign policy but has been given broad authority over a number of sensitive issues, including the brokering of a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Trump told Kushner at a gala a few days before his inauguration:
If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can!
Kushner, 36, a newcomer to foreign policy issues, has taken an active role as an adviser to Trump on national security and foreign policy. Last month, Kushner made, for a White House official, a rare appearance at the Pentagon, where he met Toad Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his meeting with Mad Dog Mattis. He has also been influential with his father-in-law on issues pertaining to Mexico and other countries, and he has been given broad authority by his father-in-law to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Kushner, a multi-millionaire businessman and developer interested in how technology can reform organizations, launched an innovation office for the White House last week that intends to help reform government. Kushner’s Iraq trip marks an early foray for the Trump administration into Iraq and comes just two weeks after Iraqi PM Abadi said he was assured by Trump that Pindostan will accelerate its support for his country’s struggle against Daesh. Abadi met with Trump and Kushner in Washington last month and said he had the impression that the Trump administration would take a more aggressive approach in combatting ISIS than the Obama administration did. Mad Dog Mattis recently presented Pres Trump with the outlines of a comprehensive approach to defeating Daesh and other extremist groups on a global scale, but specifics have yet to be released. The new strategy or a refinement of it may include additional Pindo grunts for both Iraq and Syria, possible changes that could put Pindo grunts closer to the front lines, and an accelerated airstrike campaign. Dunford told the small group of reporters traveling with him on a military jet:
I think anyone who’s involved in the discussion on where we go strategically, having good situational awareness about what’s happening tactically and hear it first-hand and unfiltered how our advisers assess the Iraqi security forces, both the opportunities and the challenges, will feed into somebody’s strategic view.
As we noted last week, Kushner was also the latest Trump associate to be swept up in the ongoing media crusade to link the Trump administration to Russian spies. The White House confirmed last week that he had volunteered to be interviewed by the Senate intelligence committee. Sen Richard Burr, the committee’s chairman, said that Kushner would likely be under oath and would submit to a “private interview” about arranging meetings with the Russian ambassador and other officials. We expect confirmation from CNN at any moment on whether there are any senior Russian officials currently in Iraq, anywhere in Kushner’s general vicinity.
Kushner’s privileged status stokes resentment in White House
Josh Dawsey, Kenneth Vogel, Alex Isenstadt, Politico, Apr 1 2017
In a White House where President Donald Trump commands reverence, Jared Kushner often refers to the president by one name: Donald. And while cable TV can dominate the president’s mood and set the agenda for senior administration staff, Kushner usually keeps his large flat-screen TV in his office turned off, a stark departure from other top aides. Kushner, the president’s 36-year-old son-in-law and White House senior adviser, does essentially what he wants, having the benefit of not only Trump’s ear but as a family member, his implicit trust. That trust has resulted in a vast portfolio that so far includes negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, helping oversee relations with Canada, China and Mexico and as of this week, reinventing the federal government through the new White House Office of Pindosi Innovation. But Kushner’s status as the big-issue guru has stoked resentment among his colleagues, who question whether Kushner is capable of following through on his various commitments, and some colleagues complain that his dabbling in myriad issues and his tendency to walk in and out of meetings have complicated efforts to instill more order and organization into the chaotic administration. These people also say Kushner can be a shrewd self-promoter, knowing how to take credit and shirk blame whenever it suits him. One senior administration official quipped:
He’s saving the government and the Middle East at the same time.
In addition to being arguably the president’s most trusted and influential adviser, Kushner also serves as Trump’s unofficial hatchet-man, and all eyes are on Kushner as White House insiders predict a broader staff shake-up amid rising tensions between Kushner and Bannon. Kushner would like to present Trump a plan for improving the White House within weeks, around the 90-day mark, according to a person familiar with the plan. In a move that’s alarming the West Wing’s hardline conservatives, Kushner is increasingly aligning himself with national economic adviser Gary Cohn, who’s participating in Kushner’s innovation office and a Demagog whose moderate political positions in some ways mirror Kushner’s own. Kushner, the person familiar with his plans said, wants fewer zealots and less ideology in the West Wing, and is frustrated with the constant leaking and infighting that have characterized the administration’s early days. One person close to the White House said:
Everyone is jealous, he’s the ultimate decider. Mostly people are jealous.
This account of Kushner’s role is based on more than a dozen interviews with senior White House officials, allies, donors, lawmakers and others. Reince Priebus said:
Jared has been a top advisor to the president from the beginning. Using his wealth of private-sector experience, he is always finding innovative solutions to our country’s biggest problems. He’s been an asset to the administration.
Kushner spends his days bopping from Capitol Hill to Oval Office to calling Trump’s friends and potential media allies like Joe Scarborough (or Mika Brzezinski – RB). He involves himself in high-level discussions on all manner of policy priorities, ranging from health care and tax reform to trade policy. In foreign policy, he’s been publicly tasked with solving Middle East peace, while also handling Canada, China and Mexico issues. Last week, he created the innovation office, an amorphous entity which officials say is designed to save the government money, improve technology and reduce bureaucracy. He is particularly interested in large infrastructure projects, a senior administration official said. The creation of the office added to a perception around the White House that Kushner’s portfolio is almost impossibly ambitious, and that he prefers big-picture discussions to the sometimes mundane and detail-oriented work involved in carrying out policy changes. On Wednesday, White House staffers and outside allies passed around a story from the parody website The Onion (above – RB). Kushner did not see the piece, a person close to him said. Yet he is frequently the last person Trump speaks to at night. He spends most weekends with his father-in-law, traveling to Florida aboard Air Force One. Last week, he called congress critturs from a vacation in Aspen as the health care bill went off the rails, and while several aides questioned his decision to go on holiday at such a critical time, Kushner was the one who went to dinner with the president the day after the bill failed, joined by his wife Ivanka Trump, who is now also taking a formal position alongside her husband in her father’s administration.
Kushner’s boosters see him as “a visionary” who is bringing to government a disruptive Silicon Valley mindset that helped him succeed in the technology and real estate industries, as well as on Trump’s unconventional presidential campaign. Kushner signed off on a mini-shake-up formalized on Thursday, when Katie Walsh, deputy to Prince Reibus, packed her bags and headed to the non-profit created to support Trump’s agenda, sources familiar with the move said. Kushner’s involvement with White House staffing echoes his role in orchestrating Trump’s campaign, where he was instrumental in the removals of Corey Lewandowski as campaign manager, as well as Paul Manafort as campaign chairman, and Chris Christie as transition chief, according to people involved in all three shake-ups. Kushner has told people that he believes at least some of the resentment of him is being whipped up by people who worked on the campaign but didn’t get the jobs in the White House, such as Lewandowski, as well as conservatives concerned that he’s too liberal. Lewandowski did not respond to a request for comment. Kushner’s allies contend that Lewandowski and other critics have tried to plant negative stories about Kushner in the media. They point, for example, to a burst of inquiries from at least seven media outlets chasing a tip that Kushner was lobbying Trump to pardon Kushner’s father Charles Kushner, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign contributions. There’s no evidence Jared Kushner sought such a pardon, and no media outlets have corroborated the rumor.
Kushner defenders argue that he has a moderate sensibility that benefits the White House. Kushner, for his part, believes striking middle ground means people are often going to be mad at him from all sides. But it’s made him a target for those who believe Trump is being encouraged to jettison some of the promises that got him elected—or adopt new positions at odds with what his Trump Train voters thought they were getting. Influential conservative talk show host Mark Levin has name-checked Kushner several times as a liberal influence in the White House, including late last month when Kushner reportedly was considering supporting a border adjustment tax proposal. Levin called the tax “an old-time liberal Democrat protectionist” policy and called Kushner “some 32-year-old, liberal Democrat kid out of New York.” When the White House is planning initiatives on those issues that might offend moderates, one of the senior administration officials said:
You can expect to read the anonymous story that Jared and Ivanka are trying to stop it.
Others are more concerned about what Kushner hasn’t done. One pro-Israel operative who works with the administration said:
Jared Kushner is an Orthodox Jew and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, whose only picture in his office is of his grandparents. There were high hopes he was a guy who really understood our community, but (now we feel) deep concern that Jared is not the person we thought he was, that this guy who is supposed to be good at everything is totally out of his depth.
Those concerns have been fueled by a series of disappointments including Trump’s equivocation on campaign trail pledges to move the Pindo embassy to Jayloomia and to support settlements in the West Bank, as well as his unwillingness to force personnel moves at the State Dept sought by neocons. Influential Jewish Rethugs including Sheldon Adelson lobbied Kushner to convince Trump to appoint prominent neoconservative foreign policy hand Elliott Abrams as the #2 official at Foggy Bottom and to remove Michael Ratney, who served as Consul in Jayloomia under Obama, from his role handling Middle East affairs. Kushner was non-committal about Ratney, according to two sources familiar with the lobbying, but he did go to bat for Abrams, only to have Trump veto the appointment because Abrams had criticized Trump during the campaign and was opposed by Bannon. Adelson spoke repeatedly by phone with Kushner, and he was disappointed with Kushner’s inability or unwillingness to deliver, as well as the stasis on the embassy, said three Jewish Rethugs active in Israel causes. A leading neocon who has spoken to both Kushner and Adelson in recent weeks (ie Abrams himself – RB) said:
Kushner got outmaneuvered by Bannon and couldn’t turn it around. Despite Mike Pence having been at AIPAC this week, Kushner’s absence was noted. People questioned the administration’s Israel policy and Kushner’s role in it. One of the things that people are realizing now for the first time is that he’s in charge of too many things, and therefore his ability to get deeply involved in any one of them is limited.
That dynamic was apparent during the debate over the failed health care bill. Kushner expressed his displeasure with the replacement bill repeatedly and in no uncertain terms privately to the president, said three people familiar with the discussions. He voiced his displeasure so often that Trump at one point grew exasperated, telling him he fully understood his position, according to the two senior administration officials. Kushner played a key role in arranging for health expert Zeke Emanuel, an architect of Obamacare, to meet at the White House three times with senior staff and at least once with the president himself to discuss healthcare, according to three people familiar with the visits. Two of the people said the meetings drew eye-rolls from conservative Trump staffers, who viewed Emanuel, brother of ahm Emanuel, as the opposition. The third Emanuel brother, talent agent Ari, represented Trump during his “Apprentice” days. Zeke Emanuel said:
Jared is genuinely interested in trying to find the right answers to solve difficult problems in the country in a bipartisan way. Nothing suggests that he is deeply ideological, and unlike many people in Faschingstein, he’s not afraid to acknowledge that there are things that he knows, and other things he doesn’t know that much about.
During Emanuel’s final White House visit, on the Monday before the implosion of the healthcare bill, Kushner kept walking in and out of the meeting, according to a source who attended, then he disappeared for a few days of skiing and ice cream outings in Aspen, an absence his critics saw as either a protest or a dereliction of a duty. It didn’t help that a front-page spread in the WaPo unveiling Kushner’s shiny new White House Office of Pindosi Innovation appeared on the same day that it was revealed that he had acquiesced to a Senate Intelligence Committee request to testify about meetings with the head of Russia’s Sberbank which he had failed to disclose to the White House, blindsiding colleagues managing fallout from the Russia-related scandals gripping the young administration. He has encouraged allies not to worry about the Russia investigation because he believes it will go nowhere, and says the Trump administration will outgrow its early stumbles, but if it doesn’t, allies and aides say, one thing is clear: the president will surely find someone else to take the blame, and Kushner will likely be delivering the bad news.