When Jared Kushner’s father was jailed in 2005 after pleading guilty to 18 counts of making making illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering, he told anybody who would listen that his dad had been unfairly treated. He also went to visit him almost every weekend.
The charges which Charles Kushner admitted were not insignificant. He had previously been fined $500,900 for illegally making political contributions in the names of his business partnerships. The details of the witness tampering charge were especially colourful: Kushner Snr sought to punish his brother-in-law, William Schulder, who was cooperating with federal investigators, by hiring a prostitute to seduce him, filming the encounter and sending a copy of the tape sent to his sister, Esther.
Despite knowing all of this, Jared Kushner decided that family, and loyalty to that family, were more important than anything else.
More than a decade on, Kushner is facing no small troubles of his own. And he must be hoping that loyalty and family are going to save him; indeed, they are probably the only things that can.
The political obituary of the 37-year-old scion of a New Jersey real estate empire has been written several times over since he entered the White House 14 months ago, becoming, along with his wife, Ivanka, a federal employee at the behest of father.
While Kushner was said to be one of a handful of people in the West Wing whose counsel Donald Trump trusted and valued, there were several occasions when it appeared he might be heading for the exit. Early during the administration, he was obliged to repeatedly update his security clearance application after he failed to make known the extent of his meetings with foreign officials.
He was accused of possible collusion when it emerged that he, along with Trump’s eldest son and campaign manager, attended a Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in the summer of 2016. In the daily battles that appeared to mark that period, it was also reported Kushner and his wife fought frequently with the pugilistic Steve Bannon, whom Trump had appointed as his chief strategist. Many believed Bannon would find a way of ousting Kushner, though in the end the opposite occurred.
In recent weeks the pressure has been mounting again on Kushner from a variety of directions. There was the humiliating announcement by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that Kushner’s interim top secret clearance had been revoked.
As a result, Kushner no longer receives the President’s Daily Brief, a daily digest that’s restricted to Trump and a dozen other senior officials. This can only make things hugely difficult for someone tasked with heading the US’s relationship with China and Mexico, securing a peace deal in the Middle East and increasing government efficiency.
There was the revelation – uncovered by US intelligence agencies – that the governments of at least four countries believed Kushner was so desperate to do business deals that he was vulnerable to being manipulated on policy decisions. This week, it was reported by The New York Times that his family’s real estate business obtained $500m in loans from Apollo Global Management and Citigroup after meeting with top officials from those firms at the White House. (Kushner has said he did nothing wrong.)
All the while, it is known that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has been continuing to take a very close look at Kushner, although his lawyer insists this is purely in the capacity of being a witness, not someone who is under suspicion themselves.
Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University in New York, warned that people had been “writing about the end of Jared since last June”. She said she believed Trump would do almost anything to protect him.
“If he was smart he would leave on his own accord,” she said. “But they are so greedy. I have always said this was a smash-and-grab presidency.”
It may be that even in the absence of indictments, Kushner decides to take a graceful exit. Reports suggest that he and his wife are, apparently like most other White House employees, tired of the toxic and chaotic environment inside the administration. They are said to miss the life of privilege and exclusivity they previously enjoyed in New York.
Yet if we can assume Kushner’s loyalty to his wife, and her’s to her father, then the only way “Javanka” would leave the White House would be on Trump’s terms and at Trump’s timing.
Right now, he probably feels he needs them more than ever. As a result, Kushner is going to have to keep on fighting.