Let me put my biases on display before proceeding with my perspective about Jared Kushner, his role in the White House, and the odd semi-hit-piece about him in the Washington Post. I don’t like Kushner. I think he’s a bad influence on the President, a poor decision-maker as can be seen in many of his failed business dealings, and someone who craves personal power more than anything one might consider to be altruistic. He wants influence now and would like to parley it all into a nice resume that will put him or his wife behind the big desk in the Oval Office sometime in the future.
Jared Kushner is a pawn born into money and married into influence who wants to be king.
With all that laid out, I believe the Washington Post piece misses pretty much across the board. They want us to believe several things that simply aren’t true. Let’s dissect the first four paragraphs to see from where their fallacies, intentional or not, originally stem:
A month ago, Jared Kushner — President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser — made a surprise trip to Riyadh to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of a world leader who is making waves with crackdowns and modernization efforts.
Kushner, 36, flew commercial, and the White House only announced the visit once he was already on the ground. There were no news releases touting the specifics of his meetings, which included two days of one-on-one and small private audiences with Salman, 32. White House officials said the trip was part of Kushner’s effort as Trump’s adviser to build regional support for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Just days after Kushner landed back in Washington, Salman launched a purge of allegedly corrupt Saudi officials also seen as rivals to the prince and his father, King Salman. Kushner had no knowledge or advance warning of the move, and the topic was not natural for the two to discuss, a White House official close to him said. “Jared’s portfolio is Israeli-Palestinian peace, and he respects what his lane is,” the official said.
The journey revealed Kushner as a figure who seems both near the center of power and increasingly marginalized at the same time. His once-sprawling White House portfolio, which came with walk-in privileges to the Oval Office, has been diminished to its original scope under Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, and he has notably receded from public view.
The notion that Kushner was unaware of Mohammed bin Salman’s purge is ludicrous. In fact, it’s exponentially more likely Kushner was summoned to Saudi Arabia to discuss how to proceed with the crackdown, what the American response should be, and whether the repercussions could be mitigated sufficiently to move forward.
WaPo saw it differently. They noted that he flew commercial in an attempt to belittle him. In reality, he flew commercial to keep media in the dark.
They mentioned there was no news release “touting” the specifics of the meeting and that the trip was intended to build regional support for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Again, they’re using this to belittle the meeting when it’s most likely a cover story to keep the Saudi purge separated from White House interactions. One does not have two days of one-on-one meetings with MBS to build regional support for peace when the Saudis already desire it.
In the third paragraph, WaPo states Kushner had no knowledge or advance warning about the purges. Seriously? How would they know that? More importantly, why would they be so naive as to believe it even if the White House makes that claim? Kushner flies in, meets with MBS for two days, and then shortly thereafter he purges princes and ministers across the country. If you believe Kushner left there unaware, you probably believe Bill Clinton did not have sexual relations with that woman.
Lastly, they make their sales pitch that Kushner is losing influence and power in the White House. It’s a good pitch to the unaware, but journalists in the real world know the White House is spinning this exactly the way they want to spin it. It’s clear that Kushner is central to this administration and may be gaining in power even if it’s being pushed behind the scenes. That’s where he wants to be. It’s where he operates the best.
Most news organizations have taken the bait. They have the ultimate reason to believe the stories may be true because Chief of Staff John Kelly seems to be in control of the situation. This may or may not be true, but there are boundaries. One such boundary surrounds Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Despite conditions Kelly laid out before accepting the position that nobody, not even Kushner, could approach the President except through the Chief of Staff, the more likely scenario is that Kushner goes through Kelly when it’s convenient, but dials the President directly otherwise.
The rest of the WaPo article as well as several of the stories I read in response to the article all stipulate that Kushner is losing power because he seems less visible in the public eye. This is being interpreted the wrong way. A person’s visibility to the press and public has no direct correlation to their influence. It’s all about optics. With Kushner potentially in special counsel Robert Mueller’s crosshairs, it makes sense to keep his profile low even if his influence is rising.
If this article had been posted on a Trump-friendly site, I would have thought it might be subterfuge to push people off his scent. That it was posted on an anti-Trump site makes me certain it’s subterfuge. They’ve been convinced they need to go after Kushner in this regard, most likely by his “detractors” in the White House, because the administration needs him to be regarded as less powerful than he is. The press is being played on this one. Kushner’s power is thriving.