Trump’s chief of staff has clipped his son-in-law Kushner’s wings: Reports

Kushner and his wife Ivanka are in the cross-hairs of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly, a retired marine corps general who has sought to bring discipline and order to a free-wheeling, chaotic White House.

world Updated: Nov 26, 2017 23:33 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Jared Kushner,John Kelly,Ivanka Trump
US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner (centre) and White House chief of staff John Kelly (left) at the White House in September.(AFP File)

Jared Kushner had come to be called the Secretary of Everything as President Donald Trump dumped everything from the West Asia peace process to fixing the government on his table. He was the all-powerful, trusted son-in-law and senior adviser to the president. But his influence and role has shrunk lately.

So has his wife Ivanka Trump’s, according to The New York Times, which said in a report that the power couple is in the cross-hairs of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly, a retired marine corps general who has sought to bring discipline and order to a free-wheeling, chaotic White House.

White House watchers around the world, and specially in India that hosts Ivanka Trump later this week at the Global Entrepreneurial Summit in Hyderabad, will take note as they struggle to understand an administration that has seemed unpredictable with shifting power centres.

Kelly has denied he wants to oust Kushner and Ivanka Trump but, according to aides cited in multiple news reports, he wants them, at least Kushner, to find a place in the chain of command in the White House, and report to him. That was the condition he had put forward for accepting the job, said the reports.

Kushner is seen and heard a lot less, which his allies have said, according to The Washington Post, is in line with his natural inclination to stay in the background and not seek the limelight. And that the order instilled by Kelly has, in fact, been liberating for Kushner, letting him focus on his work.

“The order allows this place to function,” Kushner said about his changing role in a rare interview to The Washington Post. “My number one priority is a high-functioning White House because I believe in the president’s agenda, and I think it should get executed.”

And he still has the backing of the president, who told the Times, “Jared has been very effective since the earliest days of the campaign and the same is true today. He understood the movement then and has been helpful implementing the agenda the American people voted for since.”

For a time in the early days of the Trump presidency, Kushner’s expanding role in the administration — as he was assigned the West Asia pease process that has defied a resolution for decades now, the office of innovation, Canada, Mexico and China — had earned him the snarky sobriquet “Secretary of Everything”.

Also, as someone close to Trump, he was instrumental in decoding the unpredictable and mercurial president for aides, and, in later months, took on the White House group led by the then chief strategist Steve Bannon that was pushing the president towards hardline isolationist policies.

But his role has also come under scrutiny in relation to the ongoing Russia investigations. Though he has not been interviewed by the FBI probe being conducted by the special counsel, which has handed out three indictments so far, Kushner has been questioned in congressional hearings.

But he is not going anywhere, for now. He told the Washington Post that when he and his wife reassessed their situation past July, they reached a decision: “We’re here to stay”.

He added: “My wife asked me the other day if we should be looking at new houses, so that’s a good sign.”

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 20:57 IST