Kushner under fire as Trump mulls overhaul

Next president? Bookmakers give Jared Kushner a 3% chance of succeeding Trump. © Getty

Donald Trump has defended his son-in-law over reports he tried to set up a “secret line with Russia”. Will Jared Kushner be Trump’s undoing, or does he represent the president’s good side?

“Jared is doing a great job for the country. I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programmes that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.”

These are Donald Trump’s words about Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and one of his closest aides.

As the husband of the “first daughter”, Ivanka Trump, Kushner, a 36-year-old businessman who is also an observant Jew, has been given an ill-defined, but highly influential role in Trump’s White House team.

But now Kushner’s position may be under threat. Reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post have put him at the centre of the scandal that is threatening to engulf Trump’s presidency.

According to the revelations, he wanted to use Russian facilities to avoid US interception of discussions with Moscow.

Trump’s latest statement praised Kushner, but did not address the allegations head-on.

The president’s “obsession” with the Russia probe has led to rumours of an overhaul of his team. According to Fox News, Trump is becoming increasingly frustrated at his team’s inability to contain the Russia crisis.

The Associated Press believes that public relations experts are likely to be among the new recruits. He has also entertained bringing his former campaign managers, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, formally back into the fold.

But Kushner, despite suspicions of involvement in the scandal, is still likely to retain a great deal of influence. Trump sees Kushner as a kindred spirit — both men’s fortunes derive from real estate.

He also presents a smoother, less angry side of the Trump movement. In the first two months of this administration, rumours of a rift between Kushner and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, erupted in the press. The conflict was presented as a battle between Bannon’s nationalist ideology and Kushner’s more diplomatic, global outlook.

Will Kushner be Trump’s Achilles’ heel — or his saviour?

Family guy

“Trump runs the White House like a mob boss,” say some. And anyone who has seen The Godfather knows how important family ties are to strongmen like Trump. He will be ruthless with his other advisers, but his links to Kushner go a lot deeper. If the allegations against Kushner are correct, and Trump still stands by him, it could spell the end of his presidency.

Others believe that Kushner represents a beacon of hope in the Trump team. Kushner is Trump without the brashness and the controversial comments, but with the business brain. Along with that, he eschews the more extreme elements of Trumpism, and is keen to be a moderating influence on the administration.

You Decide

  1. Is Jared Kushner good for President Trump, or bad for him?
  2. Is it right for Trump to employ his son-in-law as a key aide?

Activities

  1. Write a résumé for Jared Kushner.
  2. Research the differing world-views of Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, and write down five main differences between them.

Some People Say...

“Regardless of Kushner’s involvement, the Russia scandal will finish Trump.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
We know that Jared Kushner is under scrutiny in a federal investigation into whether there was collusion with Russian officials during the presidential campaign. Thanks to his marriage to Ivanka Trump, the most influential of the president’s children, Kushner has been a key aide to the president since he entered politics.
What do we not know?
There is still one enormous question to answer, from which all else follows: did the Trump campaign collude with Russia in the presidential campaign? And then there is the question of whether it will end Trump’s presidency if the allegations are proved. What is more, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding Trump’s inner team. How much power do Kushner and co. really have?

Word Watch

Engulf Trump’s presidency
For many of Trump’s hardcore opponents, finding evidence of collusion with Russia is the key to impeaching him, meaning that Trump would be the first president to leave office early since Richard Nixon in 1974.
Corey Lewandowski
Lewandowski was a commentator for Fox News and CNN before becoming Trump’s campaign manager.
Steve Bannon
The most controversial figure in Trump’s inner circle, Bannon is the former editor of Breitbart, the right-wing news website that was described in 2016 as a “platform for the alt-right”.
Diplomatic
One of Kushner’s first tasks as an aide to President Trump is to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestine.
Achilles’ heel
A weak spot. The legend of Achilles has it that he was dipped into the river Styx by his mother, Thetis, in order to make him invulnerable. Since she held him by the heel the water did not cover it: he was subsequently killed by an arrow wound in this unprotected part of his body.

Subjects

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