What's The Deal With Jared Kushner?

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?

  • He Probably Helped The Trump Campaign Collude With Russia During The 2016 Election

    He Probably Helped The Trump Campaign Collude With Russia During The 2016 Election
    Video: YouTube

    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.

  • He's Largely Credited With Winning Trump the Presidency

    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?"

  • He's In Charge Of Negotiating Peace In The Middle East

    He's In Charge Of Negotiating Peace In The Middle East
    Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    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."

  • He Supposedly Bought His Way Into Harvard

    He Supposedly Bought His Way Into Harvard
    Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    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.

  • His Father Blackmailed His Uncle

    His Father Blackmailed His Uncle
    Video: YouTube

    Throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s, Kushner's dad Charles Kushner turned his father’s real estate business into a certifiable empire. He also developed a reputation for dropping huge sums on political endeavors through not-so-legal channels. When his spending became an issue for Charles’s partner (his brother-in-law William Schulder), Charles took drastic measures.

    He hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, recorded the sexual encounter, and then send the tape to the man’s wife - Charles's own sister. For these crimes (plus some illegal political donations), Charles was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary. He ended up serving 18 months.

    In an odd twist, the prosecutor who put Charles Kushner in jail was none other than Trump crony Chris Christie.

  • He Made $20 Million In Real Estate While At Harvard

    He Made $20 Million In Real Estate While At Harvard
    Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    While attending Harvard, Kushner managed to make quite an impression. He graduated with honors from the institution (along with 90 percent of his classmates). Kushner also brought in a $20 million profit co-running a real estate company, Somerville Building Associates, that operated at least seven rentals plus a building of condominiums. Between 2000 and 2004, the properties owned by the company saw a 50 percent increase in value.