In a White House where President Donald Trump commands reverence, Jared Kushner often refers to the president by one name: Donald. And while cable TV can dominate the president’s mood and set the agenda for senior administration staff, Kushner usually keeps his large flat-screen TV in his office turned off, a stark departure from other top aides.
Kushner, the president’s 36-year-old son-in-law and White House senior adviser, does essentially what he wants, having the benefit of not only Trump's ear but — as a family member — his implicit trust.
That trust has resulted in a vast portfolio that so far includes negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, helping oversee relations with Canada, China and Mexico and, as of this week, reinventing the federal government through the new White House Office of American Innovation.
But Kushner's status as the big-issue guru has stoked resentment among his colleagues, who question whether Kushner is capable of following through on his various commitments. And some colleagues complain that his dabbling in myriad issues and his tendency to walk in and out of meetings have complicated efforts to instill more order and organization into the chaotic administration. These people also say Kushner can be a shrewd self promoter, knowing how to take credit — and shirk blame — whenever it suits him.
“He's saving the government and the Middle East at the same time,” one senior administration official quipped.
In addition to being arguably the president’s most trusted and influential adviser, Kushner also serves as Trump’s unofficial hatchet man. And all eyes are on Kushner as White House insiders predict a broader staff shakeup amid rising tensions between Kushner and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Kushner would like to present Trump a plan for improving the White House within weeks, around the 90-day mark, according to a person familiar with the plan.
In a move that's alarming the West Wing's hardline conservatives, Kushner is increasingly aligning himself with national economic adviser Gary Cohn, who’s participating in Kushner’s innovation office and a Democrat whose moderate political positions in some ways mirror Kushner’s own.
Kushner, the person familiar with his plans said, wants fewer zealots and less ideology in the West Wing — and is frustrated with the constant leaking and infighting that have characterized the administration’s early days.
“Everyone is jealous,” said one person close to the White House. Kushner is “the ultimate decider. Mostly people are jealous."
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