Among the figures roaming around in the background while Donald Trump continues his crazy presidency, Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner is something of an oddity. Trump’s son-in-law and the heir to a dubious real estate legacy of his own, Kushner rode into Washington with the Trump team and was almost immediately imbued with unprecedented power as one of the president’s senior advisors, a top-ranking job inside the White House.
But who is Jared Kushner? Certainly, the Jared Kushner biography seems innocuous enough. The quiet man with a Harvard education and a supposedly sterling business record was slowly working his way up the New York ladder when he got the call to help with his father-in-law’s campaign. But other than those cursory Jared Kushner facts, the public still knows very little about the man who gets a lot of credit for winning Trump the presidency.
Who's the real person behind the khakis? What's the deal with Jared Kushner?
Since President Trump took office, information has come to light suggesting that various members of his campaign may have colluded with Russian officials to tip the 2016 election in his favor. Kushner isn’t immune from those accusations.
Kushner is suspected of extensive contact with Russian higher-ups, including an ambassador and bankers, in April and December of 2016. Sources also indicate that, in June of 2016, Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump, Jr. had a meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, an attorney with ties to the Kremlin. Normally, that wouldn’t be such a big deal, but Veselnitskaya reportedly had information that could be used against Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Kushner’s unorthodox approach to campaigning is often credited for giving the Trump campaign its momentum, and for transitioning Trump's presidential bid from late night punchline into reality.
Kushner kicked things off by using social media to expand the sales of Trump campaign merchandise from $8,000 a day to $80,000 a day. When that succeeded, he used the same social-media-oriented approach to get Trump’s message to a larger and larger audience. He said his entire approach to the process was stat-based targeting:
"We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote. I asked, How can we get Trump's message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?"
Kushner has plenty of responsibilities at the White House - including the task of negotiating peace in the Middle East. Most of his duties heavily rely on foreign policy expertise, of which he has none.
In addition, Kushner has also been cast as the "primary point of contact for presidents, ministers and ambassadors from more than two dozen countries." His role is extensive enough that the Washington Post has called Kushner a "shadow diplomat."
For his book The Price of Admission, author Daniel Golden spoke to former employees in the administrative office of the prestigious Frisch School in New Jersey. According to those employees, Kushner’s entrance into Harvard was shocking:
"There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard. His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen."
Then, Charles Kushner pledged $2.5 million to Harvard. Suddenly, his underperforming son was worthy of admittance.