White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner arrives for his appearance before a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. July 24, 2017..
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and son-in-law of President Donald Trump, set forth last year on an unlikely mission to revive an Israeli-Palestinian peace process that was on life support. Now it may be the administration’s Mideast peace plan that revives Kushner.
Jared Kushner, Trump son in law loses access to top briefing, February 28, 2018
As he puts the finishing touches on a historically detailed, comprehensive proposal to end the conflict, Kushner finds himself embroiled in a coordinated onslaught on his credibility, his competency and his adherence to the law.
In a matter of days, the senior aide had his security clearance downgraded to a level lower than that held by White House calligraphers and chefs. The New York Times
reported that he hosted businessmen in the West Wing whose firms later loaned his family company hundreds of millions of dollars. The Washington Post revealed that foreign governments – including Israel’s – saw his debt and inexperience as weaknesses to be exploited. And the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal,
long favorable to Kushner, suggested he step aside.
Aides to Kushner and his wife, Ivanka – who together have stared down many high-level political adversaries in the White House who sought their ouster – acknowledge they now face an unprecedented effort to push them out of their formal roles in the Trump administration.
In Machiavellian fashion, the president himself has reportedly nudged his chief of staff, John Kelly, to work toward their removal from his own White House, frustrated that Kushner’s baggage is taking a toll on his personal brand.
“The knives are out for him, no question,” one White House official told The Jerusalem Post
of Kushner’s precarious tenure.
And yet, despite losing access to top secret information, Kushner not only continued working last week on his peace plan, but did so “full steam ahead” and with an eye toward its swift completion – possibly in a matter of weeks.
One official insisted that Kushner, through a week of brutal headlines, somehow remained concentrated on putting final touches on the proposal – an expansive and ambitious project that, once revealed, has the potential to reveal the seriousness of his work and his justification for remaining in his job. That’s the hope of some of his allies in the West Wing: that the contents of the plan will surprise his critics, restore his credibility abroad and stabilize his position at home.
Still, officials say that the timing for publication of the plan – in whatever form that may eventually take – will not be dictated by current events, no matter how pressing Kushner’s political predicament may be.
Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders say that Kushner’s work on the Mideast portfolio has not been affected by his clearance downgrade, despite concerns raised by his predecessors over the need for peace envoys to regularly access highly classified information.
Announcing a week ago that Kelly would make the ultimate call on Kushner’s security clearance, Trump suggested that a change in his access might affect his work on the plan. But in doing so, he also underscored his support for Jared to continue on.
“Jared Kushner is right in the middle of that,” the president said at a press conference. “He is an extraordinary deal maker. If he does that, that will be an incredible accomplishment and a very important thing for our country.”
Kushner is doing “an outstanding job,” Trump added, despite having “been treated very unfairly.”