Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's White House roles are growing
The couple is among Trump's most trusted advisers
When President Donald Trump left the confines of the White House Saturday night – in the wake of his humiliating health care setback just the day before – he headed to a place of comfort: A table for three at BLT Prime in his own hotel, joined by his daughter Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
The pair have long been top advisers to Trump, but both now seem ascendent. Ivanka Trump, who is getting her own West Wing office, is heading to Berlin in April at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to attend the W20 Summit. Kushner, it was announced Monday, will lead an “innovation” office tasked with making government more efficient.
Even as Trump courts chaos and competing factions among his top staff, the couple is often referred to as “moderating forces,” and “Donald Trump whisperers.” The phrases “inner circle” and “power couple” often accompanying reports about the two, who live just two miles from the White House in DC’s Kalorama neighborhood.
With Kushner’s higher profile now comes a higher level of scrutiny – he volunteered to testify before senators investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, because of his role in arranging meetings between top campaign advisers and Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, the White House said Monday.
Ivanka Trump and Kushner have rarely spoken at any public events or participated in on-the-record media interviews since Trump took office, but behind the scenes, they continue to have the President’s ear now that he’s in the White House.
To get a sense of how rare it is to hear from Jared Kushner, consider that he spoke exclusively to Forbes Magazine following the election for its December 2016 issue. That was the first time he publicly talked about the campaign and his role in Trump’s victory, and only after it was over.
In Trump’s first two months in office, Kushner, 36, has taken a broad portfolio within the West Wing, where he has an influential purview over a range of both foreign and domestic policy issues.
In his second media interview, Kushner told The Washington Post that the new office will be “an offensive team” in streamlining government.
“The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens,” he told the Post.
Ivanka Trump’s husband was raised in New Jersey, the son of Charles Kushner, who found success in the residential real estate industry. The elder Kushner went to prison for nearly a year in the early 2000s for criminal tax evasion and witness tampering.
Jared Kushner’s father may have stoked his political interest at a young age – Charles Kushner was a prominent Democratic donor. When then-Vice President Al Gore attended a fundraiser at the family home, 19-year-old Jared introduced the candidate, one attendee told New York magazine in a January profile.
The President’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, has long been a key adviser to her father, through her young adulthood to her time as executive vice president of real estate development and acquisition at the Trump Organization, and, ultimately, during his 2016 presidential campaign.
While she doesn’t have an official White House title, Trump, 35, is moving into a West Wing office and obtaining security clearance, an administration official told CNN last week. She will also receive government-provided communications devices, although she will not draw a salary or technically be a government employee, per the official.
Trump will continue to serve in that capacity, acting as the President’s “eyes and ears,” per her attorney, Jamie Gorelick.
In the first several weeks of the administration, she’s already been on hand for key happenings, including roundtable discussions with Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a Florida school visit with her father and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, an Oval Office bill signing encouraging women in STEM, a visit to the National African American Museum of History and Culture and West Wing meetings on human trafficking and manufacturing, among others.
She announced Sunday evening that she will be making her first international trip representing the Trump administration, attending the W20 Summit in Berlin in late April.
She was in attendance and made brief remarks in front of cameras Monday at a women’s economic empowerment roundtable with the President and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House.
“I feel very blessed to have met so many of you,” she said to the female entrepreneurs at the table, kicking off the discussion. “You truly exemplify women’s economic empowerment.”
Together, Trump and Kushner have been active presences in and outside the White House, roles that continue to expand.
They are frequently on hand for official events, speeches, bill signings, and news conferences with foreign leaders. They accompanied the President to a Boeing manufacturing plant in South Carolina, and they’ve joined the President at his Mar-a-Lago resort with their three small children, blurring the lines between work and family time.
Trump and Kushner have also been notably absent during some of Trump’s most tumultuous moments. The Orthodox Jewish couple is not able to work or use technology from sundown Friday to Saturdays, the timing of some of Trump’s most controversial tweets and actions. For instance, Trump’s tweet alleging President Barack Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” came early one Saturday morning.
Rare media leaks about the couple have also crafted the pair’s image as a moderating force when it comes to social issues.
In early February, The New York Times reported that Trump and Kushner “helped kill a proposed executive order that would have scrapped Obama-era LGBT protections, according to people familiar with the issue.”
Earlier that week, the White House released a statement, saying that Trump was “determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that “language critical of a global climate deal was struck from an executive order that Mr. Trump is planning to sign soon,” at Ivanka Trump and Kushner’s urging, “according to multiple people familiar with the move.”
And Ivanka Trump has carefully crafted images of Washington family life, evoking comparisons to the Kennedy era with photos of their children at museums across town and glamorous shots from date nights.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Tom LoBianco, Sara Murray and Evan Perez contributed to this report.