Donald Trump has reportedly "privately asked" Chief of Staff John Kelly for help in removing daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner from their White House roles
Donald Trump has “privately asked” Chief of Staff John Kelly for help in removing daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner from their White House roles — while simultaneously telling the couple they should stay — according to aides who spoke to The New York Times.
Behind the mixed messages is that Trump is reportedly “frustrated” with Kushner, “whom he now views as a liability” because of Kushner’s legal issues, investigations of the Kushner family’s real estate company and publicity over Kushner’s security clearance downgraded from its top-secret status, the Times reports.
“In private conversations, the president vacillates between sounding regretful that Mr. Kushner is taking arrows and annoyed that he is another problem to deal with,” according to the report.
Meanwhile, a Trump insider tells PEOPLE that if Kushner and Ivanka leave the White House, their exit will likely come as a relief.
“If they leave they’ll be happy to go back to their old lives,” says the source. “They love their kids so much and this is so distracting, to be a young family and have all this pressure instead of focusing on the kids. But now Jared’s name will be tarnished, which sucks for them.”
This is a stunning fall for the power couple that the Washington Post recently described as enjoying “rarefied access to the president and special privileges in the West Wing.”
“Once the prince of Trump’s Washington,” the Post reports, “Kushner is now stripped of his access to the nation’s deepest secrets, isolated and badly weakened inside the administration, under scrutiny for his mixing of business and government work and facing the possibility of grave legal peril in the Russia probe.”
It’s been an admittedly rough few weeks for Kushner.
Following his highly publicized security clearance downgrade, initiated by Kelly, Kushner began to lose access to highly classified information, the Post reports.
Then, Kushner’s close ally Josh Raffel, the White House deputy communications director, announced Tuesday he plans to leave the Trump administration.
This comes on the heels of a New York Times report revealing that Kushner’s family business received about $500 million in loans from two United States companies after their top executives met with Kushner in the White House, an action decried by ethics experts as a conflict of interest between his government work and family business.
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In addition, special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition.
Mueller is also reportedly investigating Kushner’s contacts with Russians.
And there is the embarrassing Washington Post bombshell that officials in at least four countries have discussed ways to manipulate Kushner “by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.”
To cap off the week, NBC revealed Friday that federal investigators are scrutinizing whether any of Kushner’s business discussions with foreigners during the presidential transition later shaped White House policies in ways designed to either benefit or retaliate against those he spoke with, according to witnesses and other people familiar with the investigation.
While Kushner and his company have received the brunt of controversy, Ivanka is also embroiled in high-level criticism and a scandal of her own.
Kelly has reportedly “grown increasingly frustrated” with Ivanka, and “often feels that she tries to have it both ways, acting as a senior adviser to the president when it suits her and then as his daughter when it doesn’t,” according to CNN.
He has also remarked privately that Ivanka is just “playing government,” according to CNN.
Thursday night, CNN reported that the FBI counterintelligence officials are scrutinizing the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, an investigation that could delay or even prevent her from obtaining a full security clearance.
Meanwhile, a White House official told the Post that even though he feels the couple is being unfairly disparaged, he has recently wondered out loud whether their lives would be better if they threw in the towel and returned to New York.
However, a source in the Trump orbit tells The Hill Kushner is “digging in” and the couple aren’t going anywhere.
“Ivanka has made the decision she is not leaving the building,” said the source. “And Jared is not going to leave Ivanka in the building alone.”
- with reporting by GILLIAN TELLING