Thursday 27 July 2017

Jared Kushner 'may have to take a leave of absence' from the White House following Russia revelation

A Washington observer says Donald Trump wants to hang on to his trusted son-in-law

Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Andrew Buncombe

As the White House scrambles to deal with the fallout from the latest revelations about contact between Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia, there is said to be mounting that talk that his favoured advisor, Jared Kushner, may have to take a leave of absence.

Mr Trump returned to Washington after a nine-day overseas tour and immediately went on the offensive, saying the leaks coming out of his administration were “fabricated lies’ invented by the media.

Yet as the President was said to have met with his own criminal defence lawyer who is helping him deal with the FBI’s probe into possible collusion between his team and Moscow alleged effort to influence the election, increasing attention was being paid to Mr Kushner’s future.

Last week, it was confirmed the 36-year-old, who is married to Mr Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, was the focus of the FBI’s ongoing investigation.

It was then reported that Mr Kushner had last year asked the Russian Ambassador to the US to establish a secret back channel using Russia’s communication systems to enable the Trump transition team to talk to Moscow.

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Chief White House correspondent Jon Karl said there had been a lot of talk of a shake-up, now that Mr Trump had returned to Washington. He said there was also a big question as to what role Mr Kushner should have.

“There is no advisor closer to the president - his office goes - opens right into the Oval Office. He has taken on a portfolio bigger than anybody in the West Wing,” he said.

“And you hear people now, very close to the president, openly saying that it is too much, that he now finds himself at the centre of this investigation, even if he is ultimately completely cleared, he is at the centre of this investigation right now.”

He added: “And you hear people close to the president quietly saying, is it too much and is it time for Jared to take a step back, maybe even take a leave of absence from the White House.”

There are few people Mr Trump trusts than his son-in-law. Even though his background was in real estate and not politics, Mr Kusher was placed at the head Mr Trump’s election campaign. After his surprise victory, Mr Trump insisted that he and Ivanka Trump take up jobs within the West Wing of the White House.

Mr Kushner has been widely criticised for his alleged request to the Russians to establish a backchannel. At the very least, people said, he had been extremely naive; others were more blunt.

Former CIA Director Mike Hayden, said: “What manner of ignorance, chaos, hubris, suspicion, contempt would you have to have had to think that doing this with the Russian ambassador was a good or appropriate idea?”

But Mr Kushner was defended by John Kelly, Mr Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, who said his actions had been appropriate.

“Any information flow into the government and then considered by the government, I won’t criticise that,” Mr Kelly said. “All of these lines of communication are a positive thing, in my opinion.”

Mr Kushner has yet to publicly comment on the revelations. Through his lawyer, he has repeated an offer to cooperate with official investigators.

Independent News Service

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