Traditionally, America’s top diplomat is the secretary of state. But from Iraq to Israel to Mexico to a meeting with the Chinese, the Trump administration’s point man doesn’t seem to be Rex Tillerson. Rather, it appears to be the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
It’s a role that has Democrats scratching their heads. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, “He doesn’t have experience in any of these areas, and he’s acting as a sort of supersecretary of state.”
So who is Jared Kushner?
He’s the grandson of Holocaust survivors and the heir to a vast fortune in New Jersey real estate. Kushner’s leadership of the family business came unexpectedly; his father, Charles, a major Democratic donor, was sent to prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions, and witness tampering.
He’s also a Harvard and NYU grad who got his first taste of media attention at age 25, paying $10 million to buy the New York Observer. Kushner turned that paper into a tabloid and feuded with some editors but expanded the paper’s digital footprint.
In the process, Kushner embraced the spotlight. He did interviews, partied with boldfaced names, paid the highest price ever for a New York skyscraper, 666 Fifth Ave., and, in 2009, married Ivanka Trump, an even higher-profile real estate scion.
Ivanka converted to Judaism for Jared, who was raised Modern Orthodox. Some have even speculated that President Trump is less restrained on Twitter during the weekly Jewish Sabbath, when his son-in-law can’t work and isn’t around.
Last year, Kushner was key to his father-in-law’s campaign, instrumental in firing two campaign managers and tapping tech friends to help spread the campaign’s message.
Following President Trump’s unexpected victory, Kushner took on an unexpected role, senior adviser to the president, with a job that spans not just foreign policy but domestic issues — from opioid addiction to veterans’ affairs — and running a new Office of American Innovation.
Criticism of his role hasn’t just come from Democrats. Founder and CEO of Mercury Radio Arts Glenn Beck told Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga that Kushner’s role “is professional nepotism.”
Kushner’s test will be whether he can translate experience running a real estate empire to a policy portfolio unprecedented for a presidential adviser. Whether he succeeds or fails, at least when you hear the name Jared Kushner, you can say, “Now I Get It.”
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