Jared Kushner, presidential son-in-law and senior adviser, has been given yet another new role in the Trump administration, with the announcement that he will now head a new White House Office of American Innovation. According to the Washington Post, the West Wing unit will bring together businessmen and strategic consultants in order to solve pressing issues like health care for veterans, opioid addiction and bureaucracy reform. And that’s raising an important question: what exactly does Kushner do, or rather, what does he not do?
For those keeping count, the president has already floated his son-in-law as a possible broker of Middle East peace, bruited about naming him as his chief of staff and used him to defuse tensions with Mexico as a sort of shadow ambassador. During the campaign, Kushner was Donald Trump’s liaison to Silicon Valley – where he learned how fundraising and marketing in the political big leagues work – and his crisis manager - rushing to Trump Tower last October to contain the fallout from the release of a videotape in which the Republican candidate bragged about committing sexual assault.
And that’s not all. Kushner had no hand in the White House’s failed attempt last week to repeal and replace Obamacare. But that didn’t stop the president from privately expressing his dismay that Kushner and wife Ivanka Trump were in Aspen on a skiing trip as the plan came apart. It’s also been rumored that he and Ivanka Trump are the White House’s informal envoys to social liberals and the society world – a reputation the two lived up to when they apparently helped stop the reversal of some of former President Obama’s anti-discrimination protection for queer and transgender people.
So what’s the deal? Does Trump need to find more people to rely on? Or is it hunky-dory that Kushner, who has no prior history of public service experience, seems to be running much of the federal government? Doubtless the palace intrigue will continue and the questions about Kushner’s White House role will swirl.
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.