Chief of staff John Kelly has reportedly grown frustrated with White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and has been asking people what the couple does all day, according to a report by the Associated Press.
“I am not a person who has sought the spotlight. First in my business and now in public service, I have worked on achieving goals, and have left it to others to work on media and public perception,” Kushner told congressional investigators last July.
But it is not immediately obvious what he’s achieved. There has been little progress on Mideast peace and relations with Mexico, another top Kushner priority, remain contentious over Trump’s proposed border wall. Kushner’s much ballyhooed project to reinvent the federal government has gained little traction. And questions persist about his family business’s global hunt for cash just a year before a $1.2 billion mortgage on a Manhattan skyscraper must be paid off by the company. -AP
Kushner has come under fire of late, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly probing his family’s Real Estate dealings – including whether foreign nationals sought to manipulate him over his family’s financial position.
The Kushner Co. says it is financially sound, however skeptics point to the company scrambling to raise funds from investors whose country of origin may present a conflict of interest. The Intercept reported that Kushner supported a blockade against Qatar after his father, Charles Kushner, sought and failed to obtain financial support from the Qatari financial minister for the family’s troublesome 666 Fifth Avenue property.
“If it’s true it’s damning,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told ABC on “This Week” Sunday. “If it’s true he’s got to go.”
Kushner also lost his ability to access top-secret intelligence last week, as President Trump – who could have granted Jared a permanent clearance – left the decision to Chief of Staff John Kelly.
“I will let General Kelly make that decision,” Trump told reporters. “I have no doubt he’ll make the right decision.”
The couple perceives Kelly’s crackdown on security clearances as a direct shot at them, according to White House aides and outside advisers. But one White House official disputed that account, suggesting that Kushner welcomed Kelly’s efforts to organize the West Wing, allowing him to more singularly focus on his portfolio.
Kelly, in turn, has been angered by what he views as the couple’s freelancing. He blames them for changing Trump’s mind at the last minute and questions what exactly they do all day, according to one White House official and an outside ally. –AP
Kushner’s clearance was downgraded from “Top Secret/SCI-level” to “secret” – walling them off from the most sensitive information. The decision was the first major shakeup since the dismissal of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who was exposed for abusing both of his ex-wives. The FBI insinuated that it had informed the White House of Porter’s conduct, appearing to contradict a timeline of events initially offered by Kelly.
“Only a son-in-law could withstand this sort of exposure and not be fired,” said former Obama communications director, Jennifer Palmieri “Kushner’s vulnerable and in an accelerated fall from grace. Even though his departure would leave Trump even more isolated, a decision could be made that it’s just not worth it for him to stay.”
That said, Trump has reportedly grown frustrated with both Kelly and over negative press surrounding Jared and Ivanka, according to the New York Times – and has been quietly seeking a solution to remove them from the White House.
Trump denied reports that he was displeased. “As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli–Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico,” said Trump. “Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the president’s agenda. There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise.”
The AP reports that Jared and Ivanka have no plans on leaving Washington anytime soon.