Thursday 21 September 2017

Who is Jared Kushner? Profile of Ivanka Trump's husband and senior adviser to the President

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. Photo: REUTERS
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. Photo: REUTERS
Ivanka Trump, with her husband Jared Kushner and their children
Exfoliation: Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner admitted to carrying out a biannual cleansing of his friendship groups
Ivanka Trump with her husband Jared Kushner during a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (AP/Alex Brandon)
U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump (C) and her family, husband Jared Kushner (from L) and children Joseph and Arabella Kushner, arrive aboard the Marine One helicopter with the president to board Air Force One for travel to Florida from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner watch as U.S. President Trump Addresses Joint Session of Congress - Washington, U.S. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive for a joint press conference by US President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House on February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Ivanka Trump dances with her husband Jared Kushner at U.S. President Donald Trump's "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Harriet Alexander and Chris Graham

He is the smiling, Sphinx-like presence that helped propel Donald Trump to victory in November.

But while Jared Kushner's voice carries weight with his father-in-law, the husband of Ivanka Trump has kept a relatively low-profile as one of his most powerful advisers in the White House.

That may change as Mr Kushner accompanies the president on his trip to the Middle East. As the administration's point person on the region, the 36-year-old led a West Wing team to craft the agenda for the president's first trip abroad. 

That agenda, however, is at risk of being overshadowed by the turmoil surrounding the White House in the wake of Mr Trump's firing of James Comey, the FBI Director, and the investigations into the Trump campaign's links with Russia.

Ivanka Trump with her husband Jared Kushner during a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (AP/Alex Brandon)
Ivanka Trump with her husband Jared Kushner during a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Even as Air Force One was departing on Friday night, fresh headlines were fuelling the crisis, a fresh indication that Mr Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle.

A Washington Post report said a senior Trump adviser was now considered a "person of interest" in the law enforcement investigation into whether Mr Trump's campaign associates coordinated with Russia in an effort to sway the 2016 election.

The Post did not name the person and the White House repeated its assertion that a "thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity".

Among Trump's senior White House advisers are several former campaign officials, including Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway and Mr Kushner. In March, Mr Kushner volunteered to answer lawmakers' questions about meetings he had with Russian officials during the transition.

White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband senior adviser Jared Kushner walk along the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., as they accompanied U.S. President Donald Trump before his departure to New York May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband senior adviser Jared Kushner walk along the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., as they accompanied U.S. President Donald Trump before his departure to New York May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Early signs of influence

There were signs soon after the election that Mr Kushner would have a significant role in the White House.

Among them was the fact he was named by Mr Trump alongside retired general Michael Flynn as his staff-level companions for the daily presidential briefings. Mr Flynn later became Mr Trump's national security adviser but resigned in February after it emerged he had misled the vice-president about his meetings with Russian officials.

It was also reportedly Mr Kushner and his wife Ivanka, Mr Trump's daughter, who persuaded Mr Trump to make Reince Priebus his chief of staff. It was also Mr Kushner who was said to have convinced Mr Trump to make Mike Pence the vice president, instead of Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor.

Mr Kushner is also said to have been behind the removal of Paul Manafort, Mr Trump's previous campaign manager, who was replaced in August by Mr Bannon and Ms Conway.

Ivanka Trump, with her husband Jared Kushner and their children
Ivanka Trump, with her husband Jared Kushner and their children

In the final anxious days of the campaign, Mr Trump was said to have taken comfort in “the soothing, whispery voice of his son-in-law”, who now appears to be playing a far more significant role than soother-in-chief.

On the face of it, Mr Kushner would appear to be the antithesis of his father-in-law. He has almost 11,000 Twitter followers but has never tweeted, having signed up in April 2009.

The anti-Trump

Vanity Fair described him as “the anti-Trump: well-mannered, reticent, self-effacing”.

He is one of four siblings born in New Jersey to Charles and Seryl, brought up in the Orthodox Jewish tradition that Mrs Kushner grew up in. His grandparents, Joseph and Rae, survived the Holocaust in Poland and eventually emigrated to the US. Joseph, a carpenter, worked on construction sites until he earned enough money to develop plots of land with partners.

U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump (C) and her family, husband Jared Kushner (from L) and children Joseph and Arabella Kushner, arrive aboard the Marine One helicopter with the president to board Air Force One for travel to Florida from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump (C) and her family, husband Jared Kushner (from L) and children Joseph and Arabella Kushner, arrive aboard the Marine One helicopter with the president to board Air Force One for travel to Florida from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Charles Kushner took the fledgling construction business and ran with it. By the time Jared was born, the family was wealthy and his parents went on to become among the most prominent funders of Democratic politicians on the East Coast.

Jared Kushner went to Harvard – his father gave a $2.5 million donation.

Having been deeply involved in his father’s business, he retained his focus and, as a sideline, he bought buildings in nearby Somerville, converted them into flats and sold them for a reported profit of more than $20 million.

Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner watch as U.S. President Trump Addresses Joint Session of Congress - Washington, U.S. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner watch as U.S. President Trump Addresses Joint Session of Congress - Washington, U.S. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

In 2005, however, the gilded family crashed.

Jared Kushner was 24 when his father pleaded guilty to tax evasion, witness tampering and offering illegal campaign donations.

Family troubles

The charges stemmed from an investigation into donations made to then-New Jersey governor Jim McGreevy’s campaign.

The case became particularly lurid when Charles Kushner hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law - filming the encounter and sending it to the man's wife, his sister, who he felt was working against him.

Charles Kushner was sentenced to two years in prison, paroled after one.

Chris Christie, then New Jersey’s attorney general, prosecuted Charles Kushner. He had previously sought a longer sentence, claiming Kushner had failed to show “acceptance of responsibility”.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive for a joint press conference by US President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House on February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner arrive for a joint press conference by US President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House on February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Now Mr Christie has lost out on the vice-presidential slot despite reportedly having been assured by Mr Trump that it would be his, and received a further blow on Friday when he was  removed as chairman of Mr Trump’s transition effort.

Jared steps in to run business

While Mr Christie’s term in New Jersey has been scandal-plagued, that never seemed to trouble Mr Trump in the past, leading to speculation that it is Mr Kushner’s influence that has seen him relegated to the outskirts of Mr Trump’s inner circle.

When his father was jailed, Jared Kushner stepped in to run the family businesses.

In 2006, he bought the New York Observer, developing a side interest in publishing. He sought  advice from Rupert Murdoch, who would go on to become a friend.

But there was a positive side to the tough times. In 2007, a property developer he knew arranged a business lunch with someone he thought may be useful to him: Ivanka Trump.

“They very innocently set us up thinking that our only interest in one another would be transactional,” she told Vogue. The pair dated but split up. Then Wendi Deng, Mr Murdoch’s then-wife, reportedly invited him on the family’s yacht – only for him to find Miss Trump had been invited as well.

Ivanka Trump dances with her husband Jared Kushner at U.S. President Donald Trump's
Ivanka Trump dances with her husband Jared Kushner at U.S. President Donald Trump's "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

They were reunited and married in 2009.

And, until 2015, the couple lived a golden existence; friends with Chelsea Clinton and her husband, and spending time with Mr Kushner’s brother Josh, an online entrepreneur who is the long-term boyfriend of Victoria’s Secret supermodel Karlie Kloss.

They live in an elegant, art-filled flat on Park Lane and now have three photogenic children – Arabella, now five; Joseph, three, and Theodore, born in March.

Kushner gets involved in campaign

When Mr Trump announced he was running for president, in June 2015, Mr Kushner became interested in the campaign – in particular, it is said, when he attended a rally and saw the passion of Mr Trump’s followers.

And Mr Trump became increasingly impressed by his son-in-law.

Mr Kushner has liaised with dozens of influential figures, including Henry Kissinger, Paul Ryan, Rupert Murdoch, and, until recently, Roger Ailes.

But his public words were few. Indeed, his only intervention came when Mr Trump’s team was excoriated for using a symbol of a star, with money and the words “Crooked Hillary” – the picture was seen as anti-Semitic and deeply offensive.

In response to the row, Mr Kushner published a letter titled “The Donald Trump I Know”. He said that the tweet was an innocent mistake.

“America faces serious challenges,” he wrote. “A broken economy, terrorism, gaping trade deficits. . . Intolerance should be added to that list. I’m confident that my father-in-law. . . will be successful tackling these challenges.”

Mr Kushner has been closely involved in helping him try to do just that.

Telegraph.co.uk

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