If President Donald Trump has had a couple of lousy weeks, it is still considerably better than the experience of his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Not only has the media reported (and the White House has not denied) that Trump overruled his security and legal advisers in ordering a clearance for Kushner, but Kushner is the subject of a new book and confirms earlier accounts that he was the mastermind behind the disastrous decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. What is striking about the account in Vicky Ward’s new book, Kushner, Inc. is how clueless Kushner (and by extension the President) seemed about the likely response to the firing. With every other advisor, including Steve Bannon, warning of the inevitable backlash and disaster, Trump went with Kushner and fired Comey. The result was the Special Counsel appointment. Had Trump let Comey finish the investigation and then fired him, the Russian investigation would have likely ended many months ago.
In addition Kushner has been accused this week of using private or personal email for official business despite years of controversies over such use and his own father-in-law’s campaign on the issue against Hillary Clinton.
Ward quotes sources as saying that Kushner made an impassioned case for firing Comey — predicting that the FBI rank-and-file would be thrilled as would Democrats. Of course, the firing made Comey into a martyr and led to the predictable demand for a Special Counsel. Indeed, I was one of those who expressed skepticism over the need to appoint a Special Counsel without more clear evidence of criminal conduct. I immediately called for such an appointment after Comey was fired despite my criticism of his performance as Director. The firing has been widely described by Republicans and Democrats as one of the greatest blunders in American politics.
To make matters worse, Ward notes that, during this period, Kushner was not only having trouble on his clearance but his own meetings with a Russian banker and diplomat was making news.
I am not convinced that there is a nexus between those issues or a deeper motivation on the part of Kushner. The most likely explanation is simple naivete by a political novice in Washington. No one in Washington would seriously argue that firing Comey would be a positive move and it was clear that the move would create an existential threat to the Administration.
On top of all this bad press, Kushner has even been pulled into the college admissions scandal over his own controversial admission into Harvard.