Kushner’s boosters see him as “a visionary” who is bringing to government a disruptive Silicon Valley mindset that helped him succeed in the technology and real estate industries, as well as on Trump’s unconventional presidential campaign.
Kushner signed off on a mini-shakeup formalized on Thursday, when White House Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh packed her bags and headed to the non-profit group created to support Trump’s agenda, sources familiar with the move said. His involvement with White House staffing echoes his role in orchestrating Trump’s campaign, where Kushner was instrumental in the removals of Corey Lewandowski as campaign manager, as well as Paul Manafort as campaign chairman, and later New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as transition chief, according to people involved in all three shakeups.
Kushner has told people that he believes at least some of the resentment of him is being whipped up by people who worked on the campaign but didn’t get the jobs in the White House, such as Lewandowski, as well as conservatives concerned that he’s too liberal.
Lewandowski did not respond to a request for comment, but Kushner’s allies contend that Lewandowski and other critics have tried to plant negative stories about Kushner in the media.
They point, for example, to a burst of inquiries from at least seven media outlets chasing a tip that Kushner was lobbying Trump to pardon Kushner’s father Charles Kushner, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign contributions. There’s no evidence Jared Kushner sought such a pardon, and no media outlets have corroborated the rumor.
Kushner defenders argue that he has a moderate sensibility that benefits the White House. Kushner, for his part, believes striking middle ground means people are often going to be mad at him from all sides.
But it’s made him a target for those who believe Trump is being encouraged to jettison some of the promises that got him elected—or adopt new positions at odds with what his Trump Train voters thought they were getting. Influential conservative talk show host Mark Levin has name-checked Kushner several times as a liberal influence in the White House, including late last month when Kushner reportedly was considering supporting a border adjustment tax proposal. Levin called the tax “an old-time liberal Democrat protectionist” policy and called Kushner “some 32-year-old, liberal Democrat kid out of New York.”
When the White House is planning initiatives on those issues that might offend moderates, one of the senior administration officials said, “You can expect to read the anonymous story that Jared and Ivanka are trying to stop it.”
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