I feel for Jared Kushner. As he became active in the transition from the Obama administration to that of Donald Trump, he was in so far over his head that he did not even realize it. He knew nothing about how government works—and why should he have, since he had no government experience whatsoever? He knew nothing about the nuances of international relations, since his prior overseas experience was limited to tourism. He knew nothing about the intelligence community except, perhaps, what he read in the New York Times, or his own New York Observer.
That he now finds himself enmeshed in a scandal involving contacts with Russia that, from all indications outlined in a glut of press reporting, he appears to have sought outside official channels—indeed, behind the back of the Obama administration—should therefore come as no surprise.
Kushner is still operating very much over his head. It is true that he has forged what appears to be a friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. How far that relationship will carry either of them remains an open question, however. Because Kushner has made it clear that he will not deal with the messiness that defines congressional relations, he will not be the point person to ensure that Congress approves the massive arms-sales deal that was announced during the president’s visit to Riyadh. In any event, a sizable part of that deal was already in the works under the Obama administration and, with respect to naval modernization, had already been discussed while George W. Bush still sat in the White House.
Even less resulted from the Trump visit to Israel and Palestine, the next stop on the presidential trip, although Kushner is meant to be the man who, according to his father-in-law, will at long last bring peace to the Middle East by resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. As for Kushner’s third stop on the presidential tour, in Rome to meet Pope Francis, all that resulted from that meeting was the widespread indignation at the fact that Kushner and his wife Ivanka, both Orthodox Jews, participated in the meeting with the pontiff, while Sean Spicer, a religious Catholic who attends mass every Sunday, was excluded.