US & Canada

Jared Kushner: The son-in-law with Donald Trump's ear

Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump acknowledge the crowd at the New York Hilton Midtown Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jared Kushner smiles for the camera at Donald Trump's presidential victory party

For someone with no prior government experience, Jared Kushner has accumulated a dizzying array of portfolios in the administration of his father-in-law President Donald Trump.

The 36-year-old, whose previous main work experience was running his father's real-estate firm, is a senior adviser to the commander-in-chief.

Despite having no diplomatic credentials, he has been tasked with no less a challenge than resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, also serves as the president's lead adviser on relations with China, Mexico and Canada.

Read more

And he has been charged with leading a bureaucracy-busting White House office with an ambitious remit that ranges from reforming veterans' care to combating US opioid abuse.

Mr Trump has described Mr Kushner, who accompanied him on his first visit to the White House after the election, as "very good at politics".

And his son-in-law seemed to justify this assessment during the 2016 White House campaign, proving himself adept at outmanoeuvring rivals.

When combative campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was fired before the election, it was reportedly Mr Kushner who pushed for him to get the chop.

Jared Kushner was born and raised in Livingston, New Jersey, alongside two sisters and a brother.

A vast inheritance, tainted by scandal

An Orthodox Jew, his grandparents were Holocaust survivors who arrived in the US in 1949. His father Charles made his fortune as a New Jersey property mogul.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Jared Kushner walks around the White House with President Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough

The young Jared won a place at Harvard despite poor grades, according to Daniel Golden, author of The Price of Admissions: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges.

The year of his admission, according to Mr Golden's book, Charles Kushner donated $2.5m to the university, along with similar one-off donations to Cornell and Princeton.

In 2006, at just 25, Mr Kushner bought the New York Observer. But his tenure was not plain sailing.

The newspaper's respected editor of 15 years, Peter Kaplan, resigned three years after Mr Kushner took over after the two clashed.

Six other editors were recycled in quick succession over the next seven years, before Mr Kushner severed ties to the Observer as he joined the White House.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jared Kushner's father Charles (centre) was jailed for a range of offences including tax evasion

In 2008, he took over his family's company after his father was jailed for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering.

Mr Kushner Snr had admitted setting up his own brother-in-law with a prostitute, secretly filming the liaison, and sending the tape to his sister in an effort to prevent them testifying against him.

In 2009, Jared wed Ivanka Trump at a Trump golf club in New Jersey. They have three children.

Mr Kushner and Mr Trump's apparent bond may be based in part at least on similar experiences.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka voted together for Donald Trump

Both are political outsiders who inherited property empires from their fathers at a relatively young age. The Kushners own 666 Fifth Avenue, a Manhattan skyscraper just a few blocks from Trump Tower.

Mr Trump's father, Frederick Christ Trump, was also a controversial figure who was taken to court for alleged racial discrimination in housing allocation.

But in contrast to his father-in-law, Mr Kushner is seen as a composed and camera-shy personality.

This fresh-faced, behind-the-scenes operator will have to face the spotlight when he is questioned as part of a Senate investigation into alleged links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

It has emerged that Mr Kushner not only spoke to Moscow's ambassador in December 2016, but met the head of a US-sanctioned, Russian state-owned bank.

Mr Kushner will be the closest person to the president quizzed in the ongoing congressional inquiry.

He will no doubt find the inquiry an unwelcome distraction from his many other duties.

Mr Kushner will need to muster all his lauded political acumen to navigate the hearing.

More on Donald Trump:

Related Topics