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Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner 2018.jpg
Senior Advisor to the President
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
Serving with Stephen Miller
President Donald Trump
Director of the Office of American Innovation
Assumed office
March 27, 2017
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Position established
Personal details
Born Jared Corey Kushner
(1981-01-10) January 10, 1981 (age 37)
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.
Spouse(s)
Ivanka Trump (m. 2009)
Children 3
Parents Charles Kushner
Seryl Stadtmauer
Relatives Joshua Kushner (brother)
Murray Kushner (uncle)
Education Harvard University (AB)
New York University (JD, MBA)

Jared Corey Kushner (born January 10, 1981) is an American investor, real-estate developer, and newspaper publisher who is currently senior advisor to his father-in-law, Donald Trump, the President of the United States. Kushner is the elder son of real-estate developer Charles Kushner and is married to Ivanka Trump, President Trump's daughter and advisor. He was chief executive officer of the real-estate holding and development company Kushner Companies, and of Observer Media, publisher of the New York Observer. He is the co-founder and part owner of Cadre, an online real-estate investment platform.

During the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, Kushner helped develop and run Trump's digital media strategy. On January 9, 2017, he was named as a senior White House advisor.

Early life (1981–2007)

Kushner was born in Livingston, New Jersey, to Seryl Kushner (née Stadtmauer) and Charles Kushner, a real-estate developer.[1] His paternal grandparents, Reichel and Joseph Kushner, were Holocaust survivors who came to the U.S. in 1949 from Navahrudak, Belarus.[2][3] Morris Stadtmauer was the grandfather of Jared Kusnher.[4] Kushner was raised in a Modern Orthodox Jewish family.[5] He graduated from the Frisch School, a Modern Orthodox yeshiva high school, in 1999. He was an honors student and a member of the debate, hockey, and basketball teams.[6]

Kushner enrolled at Harvard University in 1999. Journalist Daniel Golden has alleged that Kushner was accepted due to his father's donations and history with the school.[7][8] He was elected into the Fly Club, supported the campus Chabad house,[9][10] and bought and sold real estate in Somerville, Massachusetts, as a vice president of Somerville Building Associates (a division of Kushner Companies). Its other vice president was his maternal uncle, Richard Stadtmauer, then vice chairman of Kushner Companies.[11] The venture was dissolved in 2005 after returning a profit of $20 million.[12][13] Kushner graduated from Harvard in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government.[14][15]

Kushner graduated from New York University in 2007 with dual JD/MBA degrees. He interned at Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office, and at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.[16]

Business career (2006–2017)

Real estate

Kushner was a real-estate investor, and increased Kushner Companies' presence in the New York City real-estate market.[17]

Kushner Companies purchased 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007 for $1.8 billion, the most expensive single property purchase in US history at the time.[18]

Kushner Companies purchased the office building at 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007, for a then-record price of $1.8 billion, most of it borrowed.[18] He assumed the role of CEO in 2008.[19] Following the property crash that year, the cash flow generated by the property was insufficient to cover its debt service, and the Kushners were forced to sell the retail footage to Stanley Chera[20] and bring in Vornado Realty Trust as a 50% equity partner in the ownership of the building.[21] By that time, Kushner Companies had lost more than $90 million on its investment.[22] He was the face of the deal but his father Charles Kushner pushed him to do the deal.[23]

On August 18, 2014, Kushner acquired a three-building apartment portfolio in Middle River, Maryland, for $38 million with Aion Partners. In 2013–2014, he and his company acquired more than 11,000 units throughout New York, New Jersey, and the Baltimore area.[24] In May 2015, he purchased 50.1% of the Times Square Building from Africa Israel Investments Ltd. for $295 million.[25]

In May 2015, Kushner purchased a majority stake of One Times Square for $295 million.[25]

In 2014, Kushner, with his brother Joshua and Ryan Williams, co-founded Cadre (now RealCadre LLC), an online real-estate investment platform. His business partners included Goldman Sachs and billionaire George Soros, a top Democratic Party donor.[26][27][28] In early 2015, Soros Fund Management financed the startup with a $250 million credit line.[26][29] Kushner did not identify these business relationships in his January 2017 government financial-disclosure form.[26][30]

Newspaper publishing

Peter W. Kaplan and Kushner, September 2008

In 2006, Kushner purchased The New York Observer, a weekly New York City newspaper, for $10 million,[31] using money he says he earned during his college years by closing deals on residential buildings in Somerville, Massachusetts, with family members providing the backing for his investments.[32]

After purchasing the Observer, Kushner published it in tabloid format.[33] Since then, he has been credited with increasing the Observer's online presence and expanding the Observer Media Group.[34][35] With no substantial experience in journalism, Kushner could not establish a good relationship with the newspaper's veteran editor-in-chief, Peter W. Kaplan.[36] "This guy doesn't know what he doesn't know", Kaplan remarked about Kushner, to colleagues, at the time.[36] As a result of his differences with Kushner, Kaplan quit his position. Kaplan was followed by a series of short-lived successors until Kushner hired Elizabeth Spiers in 2011.[37] It has been alleged that Kushner used Observer as propaganda against rivals in real estate.[37][38] Spiers left the newspaper in 2012. In January 2013, Kushner hired a new editor-in-chief, Ken Kurson. Kurson had been a consultant to Republican political candidates in New Jersey.[37]

According to Vanity Fair, under Kushner, the "Observer has lost virtually all of its cultural currency among New York's elite, but the paper is now profitable and reporting traffic growth ... [it] boasts 6 million unique visitors per month, up from 1.3 million in January 2013".[39] In April 2016, the New York Observer became one of only a handful of newspapers to officially endorse United States presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Republican primary, but the paper ended the campaign period by choosing not to back any presidential candidate at all.[40][41]

Kushner stepped down from his newspaper role in January 2017 to pursue a role in President Donald Trump's administration. He was replaced by his brother-in-law.[42]

Politics (2016–2018)

Political background

Jared Kushner had been a lifelong Democrat prior to Donald Trump entering politics.[43] He had donated over $10,000 to Democratic campaigns[44] starting at young age of 11. In 2008 he donated to the campaign for Hillary Clinton and his newspaper the New York Observer endorsed Barack Obama over John McCain in the US presidential election.[45] but after disappointment with Barack Obama he endorsed Republican US presidential race nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 via the New York Observer.[46] In 2014 he continued to donate to Democratic groups,[45] but he then continued his "ideological conversion" by joining his father-in-law Donald Trump's nascent US presidential campaign in 2015.[51] Kushner had no prior involvement in campaign politics or in government before Trump's campaign.[52]

Presidential campaign

Kushner and the Trump family, pictured at a campaign victory party in Des Moines, Iowa, on February 1, 2016

From the outset of the presidential campaign of his father-in-law Donald Trump, Kushner was the architect of Trump's digital, online, and social media campaigns, enlisting talent from Silicon Valley to run a 100-person social-media team dubbed "Project Alamo".[53] Kushner has also helped as a speechwriter, and was tasked with working to establish a plan for Trump's White House transition team.[54] He was for a time seen as Trump's de facto campaign manager, succeeding Corey Lewandowski, who was fired in part on Kushner's recommendation in June 2016.[55] He had been intimately involved with campaign strategy, coordinating Trump's visit in late August to Mexico, and he is believed to be responsible for the choice of Mike Pence as Trump's running mate.[53][56] Kushner's "sprawling digital fundraising database and social media campaign" has been described as "the locus of his father-in-law's presidential bid".[57]

According to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt (who worked on technology for Hillary Clinton's campaign), Kushner's role in the 2016 election was its biggest surprise. Schmidt told Forbes, "Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources."[58] Federal Election Commission filings indicate the Trump campaign spent $343 million, about 59 percent as much as the Clinton campaign.[59]

On July 5, 2016, Kushner wrote an open letter in the New York Observer addressing the controversy around a tweet from the Trump campaign containing allegedly anti-Semitic imagery. He was responding to his own paper's editorial by Dana Schwartz criticizing Kushner's involvement with the Trump campaign.[60] In the letter, Kushner wrote, "In my opinion, accusations like 'racist' and 'anti-Semite' are being thrown around with a carelessness that risks rendering these words meaningless."[61]

Presidential transition

Japanese PM Shinzō Abe meets with Ivanka, president-elect Donald Trump, and Jared Kushner

During the presidential transition, Kushner was said to be his father-in-law's "confidant",[62] and one of Donald Trump's closest advisors, even more so than Trump's four adult children.[63] Trump was reported to have requested the top-secret security clearance for him to attend the Presidential daily intelligence briefings as his staff-level companion, along with General Mike Flynn, who already had the clearance prior to his resignation.[64]

Kushner was reportedly an influential factor behind the firing of New Jersey governor Chris Christie as head of the transition team, as well as the dismissal from the Donald Trump transition team of anyone connected to Christie.[65][66] An anonymous source familiar with the transition told Politico, "Jared doesn't like Christie... He's always held [the prosecution of his father] against Christie."[67] Kushner told Forbes that the reports that he was involved in Christie's dismissal were false: "Six months ago, Governor Christie and I decided this election was much bigger than any differences we may have had in the past, and we worked very well together... I was not behind pushing out him or his people."[68]

Senior Advisor to the President

Kushner during the April 2017 Syrian missile strike operation

On January 9, 2017, Kushner was named Senior Advisor to the President[69] (formally, "Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor"[70]). He consequently resigned as CEO of Kushner Companies, and as publisher of the Observer.[71] Kushner's appointment was questioned on the basis of a 1967 anti-nepotism law.[72] On January 20, 2017, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion stating, "The President may appoint relatives to his immediate staff of advisors."[73][74] Kushner was sworn in on January 22, 2017.[75] As of February 15, 2018, Kushner did not obtained a full security clearance and had been operating on a temporary security clearance for more than a year,[76][77] which has given him access to classified information, until he was granted permanent access in May 2018.[78] On February 27, 2018, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly downgraded Kushner's interim security clearance to "secret" status, along with other White House staffers working with interim security clearances.[79][80][81] He worked in the White House based on an interim security clearance,[82] not passing a comprehensive background investigation until May 2018.[83] His office is physically the closest to the Oval Office.[84]

Trump put Kushner in charge of brokering peace in Israeli–Palestinian conflict, as well as making deals with foreign countries, although in what way he is in charge is unclear.[85][86][87] On August 24, 2017, Kushner traveled to Israel to talk to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He then traveled to Palestine to meet President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to restart a peace process in the Middle East.[88]

Furthermore, after Donald Trump became President-elect, Kushner and his wife met with Japanese Prime Minister and other Japanese officials, while his wife was conducting a licensing deal between her namesake clothing brand and a Japanese government-owned company.[89] His wife sat in on a meeting between her father, then-President-elect Donald Trump, and Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe.[90]

In late March 2017, Jared Kushner was also given the new role of leading the "White House Office of American Innovation",[91][92] where Kushner reportedly has been focusing on improving governmental efforts with regard to Veterans Affairs, information-technology contracting, and the opioid crisis.[93] Kushner was involved in the sale of $100+ billion of arms to Saudi Arabia, and during a meeting with Saudi officials at the White House, he called Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson to ask for a lower price on a radar system to detect ballistic missiles.[94]

Kushner's business activities in China have drawn scrutiny for mixing government with business.[95][96][97] Kushner's investments in real estate and financial services have also drawn controversy for conflicts of interest.[98][99] In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that he had failed to disclose all required financial information in his security clearance applications, including that he owes $1 billion in loans.[30][100]

Abbe Lowell, the lawyer of Kushner, in a statement admitted that Kushner used private e-mail for official White House business. No classified or privileged information was used on this account. Kushner's father-in-law repeatedly criticized his opponent Hillary Clinton for her personal e-mail usage in her role as Secretary of State.[101]

Dedication ceremony of the Embassy of the United States in Jerusalem, May 2018

FIRST STEP Act

Kushner helped to spearhead creation of the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act (FIRST STEP ACT, House Resolution # 5682) and its May 9, 2018 endorsement by the House Judiciary Committee.[102][103][104]

Russian investigation

Kushner has said he had four meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition, and says that none of those Russian contacts were improper.[105]

To hold his position in the Trump administration, Kushner is required to obtain and keep a top-secret security clearance, which, among other things, has required him to fill out "Standard Form 86: Questionnaire for National Security Positions".[106][107] Kushner's initial SF-86 form did not disclose any meetings with foreign government officials, and Kushner did not personally verify the correctness of the information on his form.[106] As such, Kushner failed to disclose that he had met in December 2016 with Russian officials, including Ambassador Kislyak and Sergei Gorkov, chairman of a Russian government-owned bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB).[108] Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has stated that Kushner met with Gorkov briefly as part of his role in the transition, and as a diplomatic conduit to the State Department.[109] However, VEB has stated that Gorkov met with Kushner on a private matter concerning his family's real estate corporation, Kushner Companies, even though VEB has been under international sanctions since July 2014.[110] In April 2017, it was reported that Kushner's lawyer has called the omission from his security clearance form an oversight.[111] In July 2017, media reported that for his security clearance, Kushner had recently filed a revised version of the form disclosing his contact with foreign nationals, and that it was via this disclosure that government officials first learned of the June 2016 Trump campaign–Russian meeting and Kushner's role in it. Failure to disclose such contacts can cause revocation of a security clearance, while knowingly doing so can result in imprisonment.[112]

In June 2016 an agent of Emin Agalarov reportedly offered Donald Trump Jr., Kushner's brother-in-law, compromising information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government if he met with a lawyer connected to the Kremlin.[113] A meeting took place on June 9, 2016, and included Kushner, Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort, who was then chairman of the presidential campaign, who met with Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower.[114] According to Rinat Akhmetshin, who was also present at the meeting, Veselnitskaya claimed to have evidence of "violations of Russian law by a Democratic donor", and that the "Russian lawyer described her findings at the meeting and left a document about them with Trump Jr. and the others".[115] The Democratic National Committee cyber attacks were revealed later that week.[113]

In December 2016, U.S. intelligence officials who were monitoring Kislyak reportedly overheard him relaying to Moscow a request from Kushner to establish a "secret and secure communications channel" with the Kremlin using Russian diplomatic facilities. Kislyak reportedly was "taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate – a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team".[116][117]

In July 2017 Kushner appeared before both the House and Senate intelligence committees in closed session as part of their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.[118] He also released a public statement.[119] In October 2017 the Senate Judiciary Committee requested numerous documents from Kushner. Kushner's attorneys gave the committee many documents on November 3, but the committee followed up on November 16 with a request for many additional documents it said had not been produced.[120]

In early November 2017 Kushner was interviewed by investigators from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office. Reportedly the interview focused on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.[121] On December 1 Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI, as part of a plea bargain. Bloomberg reported that Kushner is most likely the "senior member of the Trump transition team," mentioned in Flynn's plea documents, who is said to have ordered Flynn to contact Russia.[122]

Mueller is investigating meetings between Trump associates including Kushner and George Nader, an emissary representing the crown princes of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. In August 2016, Nader offered help to the Trump presidential campaign.[123] In December 2016, Nader attended a New York meeting between the United Arab Emirates officials and Kushner, Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon.[124] Mueller is also investigating Kushner's possible ties to Qatar, Israel and China.[125]

Kushner's contacts with Russian officials have come under scrutiny as part of the larger federal investigation into Russian interference in the election.[126] He had two undisclosed phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, between April and November 2016. His attorney, Jamie Gorelick, told Reuters that he had participated in "thousands of calls in this time period" and did not recall any with Kislyak.[127]

Personal life

Kushner with Ivanka, Melania Trump, and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in May 2017

Kushner has a younger brother, Joshua, and two sisters. He married to Ivanka Trump, whom "everyone in the family seems to acknowledge" is Donald Trump's "favorite" child,[128] in a Jewish ceremony on October 25, 2009. They had met in 2005 through mutual friends.[129][130][131] Kushner and his wife (who converted to Judaism in 2009[132]) are Modern Orthodox Jews, keep a kosher home, and observe the Jewish Shabbat.[133][134][135] They have three children, born between 2011 and 2016.[136] In 2017, federal disclosures suggested Kushner and his wife had assets worth at least $240 million, and as much as $740 million.[98][137] They also have an art collection, estimated to be worth millions that was not mentioned in the financial disclosures initially,[138] and enjoy visiting art studios.[139] The United States Office of Government Ethics has said that the updated disclosures comply with the regulations and laws.[140]

See also

References

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