Kushner’s Global Role Shrinks as He Tackles Another: The 2020 Election

Kushner’s Global Role Shrinks as He Tackles Another: The 2020 Election


Mr. Kushner declined to comment on his change in focus, but his allies in the White House say he sees no reason to involve himself as extensively in international issues now that the State Department is run by Mr. Pompeo, whom he sees as far more competent than his predecessor, Rex W. Tillerson. They also pointed to the fact that Mr. Trump’s national security team now includes many Kushner allies, like Mr. O’Brien and Brian H. Hook, the special representative for Iran who has also worked with Mr. Kushner on the peace process.

Mr. Kushner’s status as a member of the president’s family has also made it possible for him to choose the moments and issues where his role is highly visible.

He played a critical role in persuading Mr. Trump to support a criminal justice overhaul, which he has also promoted as a way to help Mr. Trump win over African-American voters. But he has never unveiled a peace plan whose delivery date has been delayed indefinitely. And with Israel in its own political limbo, the expectations that Mr. Kushner’s plan would form the basis of a deal are low.

In recent months, Mr. Kushner has been directing the construction of the president’s wall along the southern border, telling associates he has a timetable for getting a portion completed by the election and holding regular meetings with status updates on how much mileage has been built. Mr. Kushner’s wresting of control over the issue has generated criticism from some administration officials, who said he dives into other people’s policy areas with abandon and little foresight.

Last week, he was involved in the Trump campaign’s decision to spend $10 million on a 60-second ad that will run during the Super Bowl, an announcement that came out after the campaign of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York signaled it would make the same buy, a person familiar with his role said.

But ever since Mr. Trump entered office with his son-in-law at his side, Mr. Kushner has been trailed by questions about what it is that he really does or has accomplished. His portfolios — streamlining the government’s information technology systems, brokering peace in the Middle East — have at times seemed so large that they are meaningless. His floating “senior adviser” status that functions outside of any formal chain of command has given him a role that seems simultaneously all-powerful and make-believe.

His expectations for winning an election, however, are higher.

During Mr. Trump’s vacation at Mar-a-Lago, his private Florida club, Mr. Kushner arranged meetings with campaign officials to discuss messaging. He made a rare appearance at a campaign briefing in December with members of the news media, where the former Democrat declared that he was now a card-carrying Republican.



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