The Jared Kushner – Russia Story Sounds Like No Big Deal Outside Trump Derangement Syndrome

Inside Trump Derangement Syndrome, Steve Bannon Kellyanne Conway Mike Flynn Paul Manafort Ross Tillerson Jeff Sessions Jared Kushner is suspected of having plotted with the Russians to steal the American election and share classified American intelligence.

In the light least favorable to the President and his family, which is the courtesy expected by much of the media, left, and even some Republicans these days, we are to presume nefariousness, deviousness, and cheating in all things Trump related. So when word came that Jared Kushner had reached out to the Russians looking for secret contacts and conversations with the Russian leadership, we are supposed to presume that he was plotting treason. If you do not believe he was plotting treason, then you too might be aiding and abetting the Russians, you traitor.

Back in reality, however, it looks more like the campaign did not know who to trust, clearly did not trust the Obama Administration, and wanted to keep the Obama Administration’s eyes off both their transition plans and their pending foreign policy. It makes a great deal of sense that Kushner reached out to the Russians looking for a “backdoor.” It also makes a great deal of sense that an amateur without the expertise in doing so who was working under a deep sense of distrust of the Obama administration would both ask unreasonably for access via Russian communications systems (this is in dispute) and screw it all up.

We’re in a country where both sides fundamentally distrust the motives of the other side and where each side views the other as the enemy. Kushner works as his father-in-law’s right hand, did not trust Mike Flynn (this is pretty well established), and wanted to reset the already reset relationship with Russia that the Obama Administration had screwed up.

Yes, there could be more there. But thus far the story seems a nothing burger expect through the lens of Trump Derangement Syndrome where every member of the Trump Team is guilty until proven innocent.

Could Big Changes Be Ahead for the Trump Administration?

Well, this is something that probably should have started right after the inauguration.

As a response to continued leaks from within the White House, as well as the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump administration is looking to make changes.

Of those changes, they’re considering having Trump’s social media posts screened by legal counsel.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the administration is considering having a legal team vet Trump’s social media posts to avoid unnecessary political and legal troubles now that a special counsel has taken over the Russia investigation.

Some of the most lasting political damage Trump has incurred in his first months in office has stemmed from his tweets. Trump threatened former FBI director James Comey over Twitter, suggesting he may have secretly recorded conversations with the fired official, and he has accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower, without evidence.

So many of us have been suggesting that either they confiscate his phone or break his thumbs.

Having lawyers vet his tweets is another way to go, I suppose. It has the potential to be just as effective and only slightly less painful.

There may also be a staff shakeup and other changes, as the administration hunkers down for what could be a long fight in the ongoing Russia probe.

Chief strategist Steve Bannon and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus are said to be setting up a “war room” to handle breaking news about the investigation.

As Steve Berman pointed out on Friday night, that investigation took a troubling turn when it was revealed that senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner sought to set up a private line of communication between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin, back in December.

The move was in an apparent effort to conceal communications from U.S. officials.

The administration is also looking at adding to its roster of outside legal counsel for the Russia matter, which is led by longtime Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz, and is considering bolstering the in-house legal team led by White House counsel Don McGahn, the Journal reported.

It appears obvious that the tone of the Russia investigation has taken a serious turn for the White House, and they no longer feel just insulting the investigators through presidential tweets is an appropriate or wise strategy.

There are rumors among Trump’s allies that the president could be looking at bringing former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former deputy campaign manager David Bossie back into the fold. Those two and others could operate outside the White House as the administration looks to widen its net of surrogates.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Lewandowski, Bossie and veteran GOP operative David Urban are being considered for as-of-yet unannounced positions.

And will there be any cuts to staff?

The ousting of White House press secretary Sean Spicer has been rumored for weeks now, with deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said to be his replacement.

Communications director Mike Dubke is also on thin ice, if rumors are to be believed.

The purpose given seems to be that the communications team have done a poor job of promoting the administration’s message on issues.

I’d say a far more likely scenario is that President Trump’s insistence on having his people put out a coherent message is often immediately torpedoed by Trump, himself, and often by the very next morning, as he fever tweets his unfiltered thoughts.

The next few weeks of White House watching, as we see who comes and who goes will tell us a lot about how the administration plans to defend against the ongoing Russia investigation.

And our Twitter feeds may become a lot less entertaining.

Liberal Media: Leave Jared Kushner Alone, You Know You Really Love Him

If there’s one man in the White House with a full plate, it’s Jared Kushner. He’s reportedly lost weight, sleep, and likely some hair as President Trump’s Chef de cuisine for just about everything. He’s battled Stephen Bannon’s trolls who call him a “cuck” (among other less palatable terms they use for Jews); he’s endured the liberal press dubbing him hopelessly inexperienced and incapable of the tasks in his portfolio.

And now the New York Times Magazine has gone after Kushner’s business, portraying him as a heartless slumlord. For the sake of God’s green earth, leave him alone. His job is hard enough.

Using teary-eyed narrative and cherry-picked storytelling, Alec MacGillis pounded out the sad story of low-income tenants in developments and apartments now owned or managed by JK2 Westminster L.L.C., proprietor: one Jared Kushner.

Kamiia Warren still had not paid the $4,984.37 judgment against her by late 2014. Three days before Christmas that year, JK2 Westminster filed a request to garnish her wages from her in-home elder-care job. Five days earlier, Warren had gone to court to fill out a handwritten motion saying she had proof that she was given permission to leave Cove Village in 2010 — she had finally managed to get a copy from the housing department. “Please give me the opportunity to plead my case,” she wrote. But she did not attach a copy of the form to her motion, not realizing it was necessary, so a judge denied it on Jan. 9, on the grounds that there was “no evidence submitted.”

J2K Westminster does what real estate management companies do: collect rent. They use debt collectors to go after tenants who owe money on leases where the tenant moved before the end of the lease. Most of these leases were from before Kushner’s company purchased the properties, but part of the purchase is the written-down assets and liabilities associated with the units.

Were some of the cases unfairly adjudicated or relentlessly pursued by debt collectors? Certainly. Debt collection is a big business. Does that make Kushner a monster? Only if you want to turn people from his father-in-law.

Leave the man alone.

He’s not even remotely a conservative, or a native Trump backer. Were it not for his wife Ivanka, Kushner would be far, far away from the Trump phenomenon, and the liberal media would be singing his praises.

They’d be gaga over Kushner’s Harvard education, his NYU MBA and law degree. The fact that while at Harvard, he turned a $20 million profit buying and selling real estate in suburban Boston. That he partnered with George Soros to recover from the 2008 real estate collapse.

But because he’s one of President Trump’s closest advisors, he has to be a monster.

Very few of the complex residents I met, even ones who had been pursued at length in court by JK2 Westminster, had any idea that their rent and late fees were going to the family company of the president’s son-in-law. “That Jared Kushner?” Danny Jackson, a plumber in his 15th year living at Harbor Point Estates, exclaimed. “Oh, my God. And I thought he was the good one.”

The liberal media knows they really love Jared. But because of his family, they have to try to destroy him. It’s disgusting.

There is no reason to go after Kushner’s companies except to discredit him in the White House, and by extension his father-in-law. Daddy Trump offers all the challenges (and more) the press could ever come up with.

 

Between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner Is Not the Problem

In the fight between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, of course the President has to keep Kushner over Bannon.

Several of the early missteps within the Administration have come at Steve Bannon’s hands, not Jared Kushner’s.

The President’s own immigration order was rushed through with Bannon’s assistance and the green card issue caused a publicity headache. This gave multiple judges even better opportunities to delay implementation of the order.

Bannon’s handling of the National Security Council put his ego ahead of serving President Trump. He had to be on it and in forcing out the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he created multiple negative headlines for the President.

The health care legislation was the latest, greatest Bannon screw up and, if press reports are to be believed, he encouraged the President’s bullying of conservatives. That bullying did not get the President the cooperation he wanted and the end result was to find the President chastised by conservatives for attacking the House Freedom Caucus.

Bannon has put his grudge against Paul Ryan ahead of sound policy. He has put identity politics nationalism ahead of sound conservative policy. And the guy flies off the handle at the drop of a hat like a bipolar off his meds.

Steve Bannon has, even going back to co-opting Andrew Breitbart’s name for his own agenda, put himself and his agenda ahead of everyone around him. He conducts himself as if he is President of the United States and his limelight casts a shadow on President Trump. His self-serving actions have generated negative press for the President since before his inauguration.

And now he is using friends in the media to try to sabotage the relationship of President Trump with the President’s own daughter’s husband.

The strong actions that this President has received greatest acclaim for, from executive orders to firing missiles into Syria to appointing Neil Gorsuch have not been the actions steered, structured, or created by Steve Bannon. The ones that have gotten the President the most withering criticism from the left and his own base on the right are the ones Bannon handled.

Overriding everything, though, is this. A President’s advisor putting the President in the position of being forced to choose between that advisor and the President’s own son-in-law is not a good advisor. The Presidency is a difficult job and the President, at the end of the day, can only be assured of the love and loyalty of his family. Putting the President in an awkward position about his children and their spouses is not healthy for the President.

This ongoing war being waged with background sources in the media against Jared Kushner and Gar Cohn, particularly seeing how the alt-right is turning into an anti-Semitic cause, should trouble everyone around the President, including Steve Bannon.

Asking President Trump to choose between family and a hired hand after waging war through press leaks does President Trump a disservice.

New Report: Jared Kushner Omitted Info Regarding Russian Meetings on Security Clearance Documents

While the top news today surrounds Thursday night’s strike against the Shayrat Airbase in Syria, and the appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, in the background the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is ongoing.

And with that investigation, there are the nagging questions surrounding Trump team members and their possible entanglements with Russian players.

For months, Democrats have been suggesting that there was collusion between members of Team Trump and Russia.

The foundation of the claims are that Russia would consider Trump, who has often praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his strong leadership, and even joked that Russia should find Hillary Clinton’s lost emails, an easily manipulated pawn.

After last night’s tomahawk strike in Syria, where Russia has supported the regime of Bashar al-Assad, that last bit may be in question.

Still, there are questions. Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to step down, after it was found that he had conversations with Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. around the time former President Obama was leveling sanctions against Russia and kicking their diplomats out of the country, and then he lied to VP Pence about it.

There have been others close to Trump who have had to step aside, or otherwise fell under scrutiny because of their relationship with Russia.

Now, in what is likely to hit closest to Trump, his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, seems to have his own entanglements to work through.

A story in the Washington Examiner today details how Kushner, while pursuing his security clearance, failed to include a series of meetings with Russian officials on the required documents.

Kushner omitted a meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and a separate meeting with a Russian state-owned banking executive, the New York Times reported late Thursday. Kushner’s attorney told the Times the omissions were made in error.

Of course. When the air is thick with accusations and lingering questions about foreign collusion, you forget those things.

Kushner holds a temporary security clearance while the FBI processes his paperwork and required background check. His aides told the Times that they are working to produce a list of foreign contacts to the FBI in order to comply with disclosure requirements under the law.

All this comes at a time when there is said to be heightened tensions within Trump’s inner circle.

Kushner’s influence over the president seems to be growing, even as the grip of Steve Bannon, former Breitbart CEO and current chief strategist, seems to be slipping away.

The White House has defended Kushner’s contacts with foreign leaders by noting that his job on the transition team involved opening lines of communication with various foreign leaders ahead of Trump’s inauguration.

This may very well be true. Reports are that the true power behind the throne belongs to Kushner, as Trump has turned a historical amount of control of policy and issues over to his son-in-law. If that’s the case, he would definitely need to develop many relationships.

The House Intelligence Committee hearings are far from over, and for the next few days, focus will be elsewhere, but you can expect the spotlight to turn to Kushner, at some point, as lawmakers attempt to unravel what has become a very complicated political morass.

Ousted From National Security Council, Steve Bannon is Not Going Away Quietly

Oh, my.

Wednesday’s big news may have been the ouster of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council.

Just Bannon’s inclusion on the council stirred up controversy, as many saw it as a move that politicized the council.

At the time, Bannon’s inclusion coincided with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the directory of national intelligence having their roles downgraded.

With Bannon’s abrupt boot from his perch, those roles have been reinstated.

Anonymous sources within the White House with knowledge of the move are now saying Bannon was so upset over his decreased role, that he threatened to quit.

To be honest, I can’t see Steve Bannon giving up his seat at the table that makes up President Trump’s inner circle. He’s exerted a considerable amount of influence over the president’s day-to-day. Bannon later confirmed that by saying reports that he was prepared to quit are “100% nonsense.”

I thought so.

What has emerged, however, is a further story of warring camps within the White House, with those who are loyal to Bannon and his alt-right vision on one side, and those who have declared allegiance to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on the other.

The Hill reported on a story from Axios earlier today, detailing the split.

“Steve has developed strong and important relationships with some of the most powerful right-leaning business leaders,” a close Bannon ally outside the White House said. “I see some bad press in [Kushner’s] future.”

A senior White House official confirmed Wednesday that Trump had removed Bannon from his NSC role, approving a decision suggested by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Bannon has a reputation as a pugnacious, often nasty player.

White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon told associates “I love a gunfight” within 24 hours of his ouster from the National Security Council, according to a Thursday report.

That would suggest he’s not afraid to get down-and-dirty in the struggle to serve as Trump’s brain.

This one isn’t over by a long shot, and it’s the kind of political intrigue that they make feature films about, so just stay tuned.

Chris Matthews: Ivanka & Jared Kinda Sorta Like Uday & Qusay

In a way, I feel sorry for Chris Matthews.  From that brief, shining moment on election night when he was all but certain Hillary Clinton would win, he’s tumbled all the way down to crooning “The Thrill (Up My Leg) Is Gone” with the house band down at the Blue Note.  Still, you have to admire him for trying to keep spirits up over at MSNBC, where on Monday he bantered with POLITICO’s Annie Karni over the new power couple at the White House:

“You know, we kid,” he said, “I kid about everything, but Uday and Qusay working for Saddam Hussein – you couldn’t go to a restaurant and have eye contact with those guys without getting killed.”

 

“These people are really powerful,” he explained, “imagine getting into a fight in the office with Jared [Kushner] or Ivanka [Trump], they have enormous power, and they’re always gonna be there.”

 

“This is what I worry about for other people in the White House,” Karni responded. “Ivanka Trump has been described as her father’s eyes and ears on the ground. That’s a little scary if you’re just a regular White House staffer.”

Yep, he just compared Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law to the Hussein brothers.  You know, Uday–who once beat a bodyguard to death at a party with a baseball bat–and Qusay, who instigated the genocide of the Marsh Arabs after the first Gulf War.  With that kind of gift of metaphor, it’s easy to see how Matthews once landed a job as a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter.

Ivanka, meanwhile, recently posted this on Instagram:

Yeah, that really must have the White House staffers quaking in their boots.

Ham-handed comparisons aside, the concern that President Trump is handing too much influence over to family members is actually a legitimate one.  The problem is that Matthews and Karni have buried that point in a heapin’ helpin’ of partisanship with a side of hypocrisy.  Whatever fears White House staffers might have of crossing Jared or Ivanka pale in comparison to the kind of terror Hillary Clinton inflicted as she prowled the halls of the West Wing as First Lady–and yet we don’t hear anything about that, even though Hillary for all intents and purposes served as an unelected co-president.  And if nepotism is such a concern, why didn’t Matthews raise an objection when NBC hired Chelsea Clinton as a part-time fluff reporter for $600 grand a year?  Or are patronage jobs are just the norm at his network?

From the looks of things, Donald Trump is running his White House the same way he ran his private business–and that includes giving jobs to the people closest to him, some of whom are members of his family.  He wouldn’t be the first person in politics to do this, nor will he be the last, so Matthews and his ilk can stop pretending that this is anything unusual (unless they’d like to start beating up on Jack Kennedy for hiring brother Bobby as his attorney general).  Instead, might I suggest they concentrate on making sure that all of those hires are above board and keeping tabs on the work they’re doing?  Not only would this be a public service, it would be incentive for the administration to keep everything on the up-and-up.

That sounds an awful lot like what reporters are supposed to do.

The Coming Trump Shakeup Should Start With Mike Flynn, Not Reince Preibus

Donald Trump is headed towards an administrative shakeup and it looks like he is headed in the wrong direction. The growing conventional wisdom is that he is going to toss out Sean Spicer and/or Reince Preibus in favor of the folks who are causing the most problems.

Conservatives have long been suspicious of Reince Preibus given his establishment pedigree, but his position as White House Chief of Staff makes him the first person to ever inhabit that office who is an evangelical, Bible believing Christian. That should, on world view alone, slow down the “toss Reince” movement. People have blamed him for a lot of things outside his control and blamed him for GOP issues that were not within his control all because he was chairman of the RNC. And now he is getting blamed for other people’s bad behavior.

On Spicer, I think the White House would be smart to move him into the Director of Communications role and out of the press room. Communications is where he excels. Day to day press dealings is not his speciality. He would be better directing the message instead of giving it.

The real shakeup, though, probably is not going to happen. It was neither Spicer nor Preibus who rushed out the immigration executive order without talking to people. That was Bannon and Miller. It was not Spicer or Preibus who vetoed a provision allowing green card holders back into the country. That was Bannon and Miller.

Likewise, it was not Spicer or Preibus who sent out Vice President Pence to give false information regarding Mike Flynn’s call with the Russians. That was Flynn himself.

Just compare and contrast the roll out of the immigration executive order and Neil Gorsuch. One was amateur hour, the other was professionally done.

Trump, perhaps, does not need to toss people out on the street. He should, however, streamline the office and let Preibus actually run it. Trump has long positioned himself as a man who lets all comers have access to him. As President, that becomes problematic because everyone wants access. Access is power. But too many are letting power go to their heads.

The President would be smart to let Preibus manage the office and access. Give Kellyanne Conway plenary power to go to the President whenever she wants. She has the pulse of conservatives and can alleviate any and all concerns any might have about Preibus shutting out conservatives. She is absolutely and thoroughly competent.

Bannon is going to Bannon and Preibus cannot stop him. So that will be another area of engagement for the President with non-establishmentarian voices.

Jared Kushner will make sure liberal policies are not ignored, but will also make sure his father-in-law is up to speed where it counts.

Before the President shakes up the management of his office, he ought to at least allow his Chief of Staff to manage it. He should also allow his Chief of Staff to deal with Mike Flynn. As we are seeing, despite Flynn’s claims to the contrary, he was fired as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for his disruptive and chaotic management style, not because he spoke truth to power. Flynn lying to Vice President Pence must be dealt with ruthlessly and forcefully.