Opinion » The Rant

Jared Kushner and the Big Con


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Any fan of the classic sitcom Seinfeld should know how to pronounce the name "Kushner" — the same way Jerry used to say, "Hello, Newman." The Trump administration's Golden Boy has had his luster tarnished in the past few weeks. The Justice Department has declared him a "person of interest" in the probe of the Trump campaign. He failed to note $1 billion dollars in loans from 20 different creditors on his financial disclosure form. The portion of Kushner's initial security clearance form that requested the names of all foreign contacts was left blank and had to be re-filed three times, ultimately adding the names of 100 foreigners he'd forgotten meeting. Yet he still failed to report his foolish secret meeting with Don Jr. and Russian operatives offering campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The McClatchy news group reported that the Justice Department is looking into Kushner's digital operation during the campaign, which allegedly helped the Russians target specific voters and helped spread fake news about Clinton. And special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into Kushner's finances and business dealings. I'd venture a guess that Jared Kushner is sorry he left his cush life as a New York real estate mogul for this mess.

  • Reuters | Jonathan Ernst
  • Jared Kushner

I sometimes wonder whether Trump supporters knew they were voting for a 36-year-old son-in-law of the president with no governmental experience to become a shadow Secretary of State, flying around the world, screwing up traditional alliances, and defending Trump's most grievous offenses.

Kushner's official title is senior advisor to the president, but he has been tasked with the most ambitious agenda since the New Deal. Jared's assigned duties include resolving the conflict in the Middle East, modernizing the workings of government, re-inventing the office of veterans' affairs, solving the opioid crisis, overseeing criminal justice reform, and coming up with an infrastructure plan to repair the country's decaying roads and bridges. He's also the liaison to Mexico and China, and showed up unexpectedly in Iraq looking silly in coat, tie, and flak jacket. I never thought I'd see an African-American president in my lifetime, but I am flabbergasted that there'd be a Jewish president this soon.

Kushner is the type of Orthodox Jew who is observant until it conflicts with his schedule. Jared and Ivanka are shomer Shabbos, which anyone who saw The Big Lebowski knows means not doing any sort of labor from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. The Kushners are said to turn off their cell phones, walk instead of drive, and keep a Kosher kitchen in their home. Jared makes exceptions for governmental business or when the family is off skiing in Aspen, and the Kushners have stated that they have received special permission from an "unnamed" rabbi to travel and ride around to parties in a limousine. As for keeping kosher, it was reported that the couple dined on shrimp scampi while in Rome, a no-no for non-eaters of shellfish.

Kushner's diplomatic skills have so far come a cropper. His disastrous trip to the Middle East was complicated by his longstanding relationship with Bibi Netanyahu and his family's millions of dollars in contributions to Israel. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was left infuriated after his meeting with Kushner, saying the American envoy was merely acting as a shill for Netanyahu's hard-line policies. There was speculation among White House insiders that Trump might pull out of any Mid-East peace talks, stalled since April 2014, because he was angry about the Abbas-Kushner rift.

Kushner sits right in the middle of the probe of Russian interference during the 2016 election campaign. His failure to report a secret meeting with a Russian governmental attorney, along with the Morgan & Morgan lookalike Donny Jr., and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort puts Jared in the most serious legal jeopardy, since he is the only one with an office in the West Wing who still sits in during security briefings.

Thirteen years ago, then-prosecutor Chris Christie sent Charles Kushner, Jared's dad, to prison for 16 counts of criminal tax evasion, witness tampering, and lying to the Federal Election Commission. Jared Kushner is living proof that the con doesn't fall far from the convict.

Randy Haspel writes the Recycled Hippies blog.

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