Trump praises son-in-law Jared Kushner amid FBI scrutiny, tension in relationship


Jared Kushner, left, and Stephen Bannon, shown Dec. 1, 2016, have not seen eye to eye recently. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

(JTA) — President Donald Trump praised his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner for the work he has done in the White House, amid FBI scrutiny of Kushner’s contacts with Russia and rumors of tension in their relationship.

“Jared is doing a great job for the country,” Trump said in a statement to the New York Times on Sunday evening about one of his closest advisors. “I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.”

The Trump-Kushner relationship is “showing unmistakable signs of strain,” the Times reported in an article published on its front page Monday.

The relationship had already begun to suffer over Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, which Kushner pushed for, and over Kushner’s desire to see White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer fired, according to the newspaper.


The biggest crack in the relationship came over a real estate pitch earlier this month to potential Chinese investors by Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer, in which she pushed the EB-5 visa government program, which awards foreign investors a Green Card in exchange for investments of at least $500,000 in American development projects that create a minimum of 10 American jobs. The pitch played off the family’s relationship to Trump and brought up immigration, which are two no-nos for the president, according to the newspaper.

The article noted that Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, is resented by some White House staff, who describe him as “Jared Island,” in reference to the special status which allows him wield power and take on a vague portfolio without the same consequences of failure as the rest of the staff.

Jason Greenblatt, the White House adviser on international negotiations, told the Times that Kushner has helped shape policy options on the topic of the Middle East. Greenblatt said that Kushner deserved much of the credit for Trump’s trip last week to the Middle East.

“Jared put together all the moving parts,” Greenblatt told the Times. “It went great.”

Kushner is currently under FBI scrutiny as it investigates meetings that Kushner had with Russian officials during the transition period following the November election, though this does not mean he is the target of the investigation.

Despite this, unnamed administration officials close to the president reportedly are pushing Kushner to step aside during the investigation.

Kushner met separately last December — after the election but before Trump assumed office — with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington, and Sergey Gorkov, the head of the government-owned Vnesheconombank, which has been subject to U.S. sanctions because of its role in Russia’s occupation of a part of Ukraine.

Kushner in March said he was ready to testify about his Russia meetings to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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