Roles reduced, futures uncertain for Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — They spent their first year in Washington as an untouchable White House power couple, commanding expansive portfolios, outlasting rivals and enjoying unmatched access to the president.But Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have undergone a swift and stunning reckoning of late, their powers restricted, their enemies emboldened and their future in the West Wing uncertain.Kushner, long the second-most powerful man in the West Wing, is under siege. President Donald Trump's son-in-law has lost influential White House allies. He remains under the shadow of the Russia probe and has seen his business dealings come under renewed scrutiny. He has been stripped of his top security clearance, raising questions how he can successfully advance his ambitious agenda — including achieving Mideast peace, a goal that has eluded presidents for generations. Kushner's most powerful patron, the president himself, has wavered recently on whether his daughter and son-in-law belong in the White House anymore.A frustrated Trump has griped about the wave of bad headlines generated by probes into Kushner's business dealings and the status of his security clearance, according to two people familiar with the president's thinking but not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. The president also has wondered aloud if the couple would be better off returning home to New York.At the same time, though, Trump has said he believes many of the attacks against Kushner are unfair and has lamented that the couple is going through such a turbulent time, according to the two people."I think he's been treated very unfairly," Trump said late last month. "He's a high-quality person."Kushner's woes mushroomed in the past month, when accusations of spousal abuse emerged against White House staff secretary Rob Porter. Initially, the resulting firestorm — including questions about how Porter had interim clearance for top-secret information despite red flags in his Continue Reading

Four foreign countries ‘secretly discussed how to manipulate’ Jared Kushner

Four foreign countries secretly discussed how they could manipulate Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, according to The Washington Post.  Officials from the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico talked about how they could influence Mr Kushner to their advantage, according to the paper.  The claims were sourced to “current and former officials” and centred around taking advantage of his complex business arrangements and lack of foreign policy experience.  It comes as Mr Kushner was stripped of his access to “top secret” intelligence because he has failed to gain permanent security clearance more than a year after taking office.  Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka, took an unpaid role as a senior adviser to the president after the 2016 election victory.  The 37-year-old previously headed up the family business Kushner Cos before passing control on to relatives when he entered the White House.  The company bought the US office tower 666 Fifth Ave in New York for $1.8 billion in 2007, just before the financial crisis of 2008.  The company reportedly has a $1.2 billion debt that is due in January 2019, with Mr Kushner said to have been attempting to secure new investment before he entered office.  HR McMaster, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, was taken aback by Mr Kushner’s foreign contacts, according to The Washington Post. A spokesman for Mr McMaster played down the story, saying he had the “highest regard” for Mr Kushner.  Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer, said: “We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling second-hand hearsay with rank speculation that continue to leak inaccurate information.” Mr Kushner’s access to secret intelligence became a point on debate after a scandal about a White House aide, Rob Porter, who Continue Reading

Jared Kushner loses access to top secret US intelligence

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law, has lost his clearance to view the most highly valued US secrets. Mr Kushner will no longer have access to the President's Daily Brief, the highly classified intelligence report which is given to Mr Trump every morning. The president's son-in-law was downgraded to accessing only "Secret" rather than "Top Secret" intelligence, which can include details of covert CIA operations and matters shared by foreign intelligence agencies. The decision was taken by White House chief of staff John Kelly and it came as he moved to impose greater discipline on access to secrets. Mr Kushner, who is married to the president's daughter Ivanka Trump, has been operating on an interim security clearance for over a year as his permanent clearance has still not been approved. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly recently passed new information to White House Counsel Don McGahn that led to a further slowing down of Mr Kushner's permanent clearance application. The nature of that information was not clear. Mr Kelly indicated last week he was clamping down on White House officials operating on interim security clearances. He did so after it emerged Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, had worked for a year with a temporary clearance despite accusations by two former wives of domestic abuse, which he has denied. That episode highlighted that many senior White House aides, including Mr Kushner, also still had not been approved for permanent clearances. Mr Trump can authorise a permanent security clearance for his son-in-law but said last week he would let Mr Kelly decide the matter. The president said: "I will let General Kelly make that decision. I have no doubt he'll make the right decision.” Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, declined to comment. She said: “We actually haven’t commented on Jared’s issue indicated. But we have commented on his ability to do his job. Continue Reading

Jared Kushner is fixing all of the world’s biggest problems

Jared Kushner celebrated his 37th birthday Wednesday, but his plate was loaded with more than cake. Since landing in the White House, President’s Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser has worn more hats than most. Kushner has vowed to find the solutions to some of the country’s most long-standing and complicated issues, all while navigating the spotlight cast by an investigation into his family’s real-estate company as well as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling during the 2016 election. Here are a few of the jobs Jared’s juggling on behalf of the Trump administration: Prison Reform Jared Kushner is now pushing for prison reform Kushner’s latest cause was announced Wednesday following months of quiet research. The former businessman reportedly spent weeks meeting with stakeholders, including reformed convicts and religious leaders, to discuss opportunities to change the United States prison system. The issue of prison reform hits close to home for Kushner, whose father, Charles Kushner, spent 14 months behind bars. The elder Kushner pleaded guilty in 2004 to 18 counts involving filing false tax returns, making false statements and witness tampering. The senior White House aide has also faced accusations of impropriety. Months into Trump’s presidency, it was revealed Kushner failed to disclose an encounter with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, as is required when applying for to-security clearance. The meeting ahead of Trump’s inauguration landed Kushner at the center of Mueller’s investigation and he has since been questioned in the collusion probe. Kushner probe to 'get down deep in his s--t' on Russia: Bannon Office of American Innovation Donald Trump in the White House Trump tapped Kushner in March to lead the White House Office of American Innovation, a branch created to advise the President on “policies and plans that improve Government operations and Continue Reading

Revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance already: His omissions and lapses are simply too many and too serious

If Jared Kushner weren’t the President’s son-in-law, there’s little doubt he would already have been fired for his brazen indiscretions. Even in this White House. Since he began his position as a senior adviser to President Trump in January, a series of developments have come to light concerning Kushner’s contacts with Russian government operatives during the 2016 campaign and Trump transition. These developments are troubling to say the least, and together they demonstrate the need for action. Kushner’s security clearance must be revoked immediately. Kushner’s contacts are not just shady coincidences. They could potentially be criminal, because Kushner failed to properly disclose them when he initially applied for his security clearance. In fact, Kushner later disclosed over 100 foreign contacts with individuals from 20 countries that he left off of his original application. Knowingly falsifying or concealing information to obtain a security clearance is a felony. As of now, we know of at least five contacts between Kushner and Russian officials that he failed to disclose. The first was in April 2016, when he had an undisclosed phone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak around the same time Kislyak attended Trump’s pro-Russia foreign policy speech in Washington D.C. The second, and most troubling, was June 9, 2016, when Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort met with Russian-government-aligned operatives at Trump Tower after Trump Jr. was explicitly promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton “as part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” In November of 2016, Kushner had another phone call with Kislyak which he once again failed to disclose. The following month, Kushner and disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — who ultimately was fired months later because he was lying about his contacts with Russian officials Continue Reading

Jared Kushner says Trump agrees more with Schumer than McConnell on infrastructure

Donald Trump's infrastructure views are a lot closer to incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.), than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.), according to Trump's son-in-law. Jared Kushner, who is married to Ivanka and long ago emerged as one of Trump's most trusted advisers, said at an event at which both he and Schumer appeared Friday morning that the president-elect is more in line with the leader of the other party. "Kushner said Trump agreed more with Schumer than McConnell on infrastructure," a person with knowledge of the remarks told the Daily News. Trump talked up a major infrastructure deal throughout his campaign, and since the election hasn't backed off his promise to spend big on infrastructure, even as some aides have sought to avoid discussing those promises. That puts him on a collision course with both McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as well as some of his own more traditionally Republican advisers who don't want to see massive government spending, especially if it's not paid for with spending cuts elsewhere. But Schumer and other Democrats including Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have signaled strongly that infrastructure investment is one area where they could work with Trump. If he takes them up on the offer, he and Democrats could both score a win in spite of resistance from Republicans. Trump has long signaled his admiration of Schumer, who he repeatedly donated campaign funds to before he became a Republican. In late November, he tweeted that he has "always had a good relationship" with Schumer, calling him "much smarter" than outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who Trump long sparred with. Continue Reading

Jared Kushner: Suggesting Trump Won Unfairly Ridicules Voters

Senior Advisor to President Trump Jared Kushner chastised those accusing his father-in-law of colluding with Russia at a brief press conference Monday afternoon outside the White House."Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won," Kushner told reporters. "Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him."Kushner addressed his role in the Trump campaign amid scrutiny of his contacts with Russian officials. He turned over documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee and appeared privately before the committee earlier Monday. Kushner will take questions from committee members on Tuesday. The president's son-in-law doubled down on his statement that he himself "had no improper contacts" with Russia during campaign season."I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.""I believe in him and his ability to improve the lives of all Americans," Kushner said of Trump.Watch his statement above. Michael Moore Celebrates 5 Million Twitter Followers With Anti-Trump Donations Continue Reading

Donald Trump Jr. tells Congress he met with Russians to get information about Clinton’s ‘fitness, character’

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr. told Senate investigators Thursday that he was skeptical about a 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney he expected would deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton – but decided to go in case it revealed information concerning Clinton's "fitness" to be president."To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I believed that I should at least hear them out," the president's eldest son told investigators for the Senate Judiciary Committee in a statement released by the Trump Organization."Depending on what, if any, information they had, I could then consult with counsel to make an informed decision as to whether to give it further consideration," Trump Jr. said in the statement. "I also note that at this time there was not the focus on Russian activities that there is today."The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which also plans to interview Trump Jr., said the statement underscores that the president's son knew he was doing something wrong in attending the meeting."That Trump Jr. apparently knew he should consult a lawyer before or after the meeting is an admission that he knew what he was doing raised serious questions of legality and propriety," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.The Senate panel's investigators interviewed Trump Jr. on Thursday for about five hours as part of the committee's ongoing probe of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Trump Jr. did not speak to reporters outside the interview room.The committee is seeking answers about a June 9, 2016 meeting that Trump Jr. took at Trump Tower with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. Trump Jr. released email correspondence in July of this year showing he took the meeting after he was promised it would yield dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Clinton. The meeting, which took place five months Continue Reading

Feinstein suggests Donald Trump Jr. will testify publicly before Senate Judiciary panel

 WASHINGTON — The senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday she believes Donald Trump Jr. will testify publicly before the panel soon."I believe Donald Trump Jr. will appear before the Judiciary Committee in a public hearing in the coming weeks," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "But it’s the chairman’s prerogative to set the date, and he’ll do so when he feels it’s appropriate. In the meantime, the committee continues to pursue its investigation."Despite Feinstein's statement, it was still not clear Tuesday whether Chairman Chuck Grasley, R-Iowa, intends to call Trump Jr. to testify publicly.The president's eldest son was interviewed by committee staff behind closed doors for more than five hours Thursday. Grassley told reporters he would consult with Feinstein after that closed-door session and decide whether to schedule a public hearing where senators could question Trump Jr. directly in open session. Only a few senators attended the closed-door session.Feinstein has consistently said that she wants to interview Trump Jr. at a public hearing, but Grassley seemed to back away from that idea after initially supporting it. Reporters have been pressing both Feinstein and Grassley about their decision since Thursday, prompting Feinstein to release her statement Tuesday.The committee is seeking answers about a June 9, 2016 meeting that Trump Jr. took at Trump Tower with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. Trump Jr. released emails in July of this year showing that he agreed to the meeting after he was promised it would yield dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. told Senate investigators last week that he was skeptical about the meeting but decided to go in case it revealed information concerning Clinton's "fitness" to be president."To the extent they had information concerning the fitness, character or qualifications of a presidential candidate, I Continue Reading

Get ready: Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Manafort head to Senate

This week had the potential to be the most interesting week in Senate hearings since former FBI director James Comey's testimony before Congress gripped Washington last month, when bars opened early and people around the country were glued to their screens. President Trump's son Donald Trump Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort are all set to speak with congressional panels investigating possible collusion between Trump associates and Russians who sought to influence the presidential election. Their appearances are highly anticipated after revelations the three met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in Trump Tower in June 2016 in the hopes of obtaining damaging information about Hillary Clinton they were told would be provided by the Russian government. After negotiations with lawmakers, these hearings will be behind closed doors – but we'll keep you updated throughout the week.  Related: Here's what we're watching: Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and advisor, testified Monday morning to the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session. In a statement before the appearance, Kushner said he had four contacts with Russians during the campaign and transition but  he “did not collude” with the Russians or any other foreign officials. Kushner also stated he did not know the details of the meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. with several Russians because he did not read the whole email that Trump Jr. forwarded to him.  More: Over the weekend, lawmakers and reporters debated the terms of Kushner's appearance. His appearance is behind closed doors, and will not be under oath, so, as the New York Times points out, it is not technically testimony. Yet one Republican, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has noted it's a "crime to lie to Congress" anyway regardless of whether witnesses are under oath. Trump Jr., the president’s son now at the helm of the Continue Reading