White House senior adviser Jared Kushner was hit by two lengthy pieces in two national newspapers during the weekend, both critical of his time in the White House — raising the possibility the White House could be trying to inoculate itself as FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference is reportedly zoning in on Kushner.
On Saturday, both the New York Times and the Washington Post published pieces reporting how Kushner’s role in the administration is decreasing and including critical comments from Kushner’s detractors.
Despite claims from Kushner (in the Post) and President Trump (in the Times), both outlets were confident in their well-sourced reporting that Kushner’s star was fading. The Times reported:
Few in the opening days of the Trump administration dared to challenge Mr. Kushner’s power to design his job or steer the direction of the White House as he saw fit. But 10 months after being given free rein to tackle everything from the federal government’s outdated technology to peace in the Middle East, the do-whatever-you-want stage of Mr. Kushner’s tenure is over.
The Post looked at Kushner’s recent below-the-radar and, apparently, inconsequential visit to Saudi Arabia as proof of how Kushner has had his role reduced:
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 Times reported that Kushner found his many government roles “confounding,” and his endless “listening sessions” sparked complaints from corporate leaders dragged into them. This, in turn, reportedly led to an intervention from national economic adviser Gary Cohn, who told Kushner’s aides “not to convene another listening session unless it had a compelling purpose and produced results.”
Both pieces also noted that Kushner’s reduction in stature comes as he is increasingly a target for Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference The Post cited Kushner’s “detractors” as pointing to the Russian investigation’s focus on him as “another sign of [Kushner’s] poor political skills and continued risk to the president.”
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller is looking at Kushner’s involvement in pushing back against a U.N. resolution that condemned Israeli settlements during the presidential transition. Kushner is reportedly one of the key voices who pushed for the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Additionally, Kushner’s role in a controversial meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer in summer 2016 as well as his failure to disclose a number of meetings with foreign officials have led to speculation that Kushner is a vulnerable target in the White House — and that he may be walled off from the president as a way to limit the potential damage from Mueller’s probe.
David Atkins for the Washington Monthly asked, “Why Is Someone Pushing Hit Pieces On Kushner?”
In his article, Atkins noted the timing of the two pieces and questions whether the White House is trying to inoculate itself from any fallout, particularly if Kushner was to be “flipped” by Mueller as a way to get to President Trump.
“The big question has been whether The Don would leave Jared flapping in the wind, and whether Jared would fall on his sword for his father-in-law,” Atkins wrote. “Neither seem likely, but it would be logical for forward thinkers in the White House to try to begin easing Jared and Ivanka away from the scene–particularly since Ivanka isn’t exactly staying on message, anyway.”
Kushner, for his part, has dismissed speculation that he and wife Ivanka Trump are moving on.
“We’re here to stay,” Kushner told the Post. “At the current moment, we’re charging forward.”
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.