OPED: Kushner’s new to government but knows how money gets made
- On Kushner’s 67th day in Washington, Trump made him head of a new Office of American Innovation.
- Stephen Colbert was wrong; it is not being called the Bureau of Obvious Nepotism.
What an amazing, terrific, incredible son-in-law!
Whether or not we have daughters, we should all be so lucky as to have someone like Jared Kushner, the husband of President Donald Trump’s elder daughter, in our lives.
Ivanka’s hubby has so mesmerized Trump he was selected to lead the administration’s campaign-to-White-House transition and was tasked with filling key staff positions, including Cabinet posts.
Then Trump made Kushner, a 36-year-old with no government experience, his senior adviser. He’s also to work on relations with countries such as China and key allies such as Mexico and, oh yes, peace in the Middle East. Really.
And on Kushner’s 67th day in Washington, Trump also made him head of a brand new Office of American Innovation. (Stephen Colbert was wrong; it is not being called the Bureau of Obvious Nepotism.)
Not that Kushner has actually been inside many federal agencies but he is now charged with overhauling the federal bureaucracy and fulfilling Trump’s many campaign promises. (Unfortunately, Kushner was vacationing in Aspen, Colorado, when the ill-fated effort to repeal and replace "Obamacare" was not happening. Also, because he is an Orthodox Jew, Kushner can’t work on Friday nights or Saturdays.)
One of Kushner’s tasks is to decide which branches of government to privatize, giving Big Business a well-deserved opportunity to get its hands on fulfilling lucrative taxpayer needs.
Kushner is a well-known commodity in New York’s posh social circles; he inherited the reins of a lucrative real estate business from his father, who was put in prison by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when he was a U.S. attorney. Fittingly, Kushner took the transition team away from Christie, who was supposed to be in charge until it actually happened. Christie was not given a coveted Cabinet position in the administration, but this week he was chosen by Trump to lead a committee to combat the opioid crisis in America. Meanwhile, Kushner has stepped down as CEO of his family’s business.
The White House says the new Office of American Innovation will bring to government the best, most lucrative practices of great American business corporations. (Perhaps they forgot such corporations don’t fill key posts with sons-in-law.)
Kushner will give talented business friends the potentially lucrative opportunity to swoop, like SWAT teams, into federal agencies, where they will prod and pull, examine technology and data, and experiment with ways to make government offices smaller.
While Kushner was heading the transition office, he held, along with his wife and his two brothers-in-law who run the Trump business empire, a meeting with the head of a Russian bank that is under U.S. sanctions because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and war in Ukraine. Kushner also met with the Russian ambassador before Trump was sworn in.
Kushner says he gladly will testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees on whether he discussed lifting sanctions, which would have been illegal. Kushner is expected to say he did nothing wrong. Congress is also investigating the extent of Russia’s interference in the November presidential election.
Meanwhile, the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation of the Trump team’s stunning number of connections with Russia and whether anything was treasonous.
But amid the swirling conflicts of interest involving the Trump administration, at least one has ended. The Kushner family business says it and a Chinese company that bought the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel have ended talks over a $4 billion Manhattan real estate deal.
As Kushner begins his overhaul mission, will he and his team oversee potentially lucrative government contracts? Why, yes, they will. If the team thinks contracts should be awarded to new bidders, that could well happen. The Washington Post says Kushner is especially proud that his team has no government experts but is culled from business and has a broad mandate to reform the federal bureaucracy. Already, emails are flying back and forth with suggestions from various business interests.
The Kushner SWAT team is spreading its wings as the federal bureaucracy is reeling from Trump’s proposed budget, which takes huge swaths from agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department.
Will government look different? Yes. Will it be more efficient? We don’t know. Will it be smaller? We don’t know. Will there be more corruption? We don’t know. Will some people make money off of this? They always do.
— Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.