This piece was originally published at GenFKD
Jared Kushner, a thirty-five-year-old real estate developer and newspaper owner, has found himself smack-dab in the middle of the presidential campaign of his father-in-law, Donald Trump.
This role is unlikely, not only because Kushner’s very brief background is in real estate, law and media, but because, up until now, he’s been a passionate supporter of Democrats.
Kushner became part of the Trump family when he married Ivanka Trump, The Donald’s daughter, in 2009. One of his wedding guests was Cory Booker, Democratic senator of New Jersey and former mayor of Newark. Booker and Kushner were friends and political compadres, as Kushner donated and fundraised for Booker’s mayoral and Senate bids.
Support of Democratic politics runs deep in Kushner’s fam. His father, Charles Kushner, was a Democratic donor as well. Not all Charles’ political activities were above board, though – he spent a year in prison for illegal campaign contributions, in addition to witness tampering and tax evasion.
Given Booker’s vastly different politics, Kushner’s transition from supporting Booker in 2013 to Trump in 2016 is a bit of a leap, but one may guess it has to do with his familial ties.
In the beginning, Kushner’s role in Trump’s campaign was kind of similar to that of any volunteer; he made phone calls to people who might donate to the campaign or serve as advisers to Trump.
In March, Kushner’s potential for a greater role became apparent. After Trump said he’d be “neutral” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during a debate, there was damage control to be done. Kushner jumped in, talking with Jewish leaders and drafting a speech that he advised Trump to give to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
After that, Kushner’s had a hand in nearly every area of the campaign, from detail work like finding videos for Trump’s Facebook page to recruiting a communications director, counseling Trump on his policy speeches and even meeting twice with Ron Dermer, an Israeli ambassador, on behalf of the candidate.
Leading up to the Republican National Convention, Kushner has also played a role in helping Trump make his vice presidential pick.
Though Kushner has largely avoided the media spotlight – unlike his father-in-law, he’s quiet and mild-mannered – he’s getting more attention now over his letter, published in The Observer, defending Trump against claims of anti-Semitism.
Trump was criticized far and wide in recent weeks for retweeting an image of Sec. Hillary Clinton cropped in front of a bunch of cash, and featuring the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” in a star, which many believe was the Star of David (an interpretation bolstered by the fact that the image originated on a white supremacist/neo-Nazi site).
Many, including Observer writer Dana Schwartz, were outraged. Schwartz published a letter calling on Kushner to explain how, as a Jewish person, he could support his father-in-law.
Kushner, in response, invoked the stories of his grandparents and their families, who lived in Belorussia during World War II; some were killed by Nazis, and others spent years fleeing them in order to survive. He wrote this, he said, to explain where he is coming from, how deeply he cares about Judaism, and how Trump has “embraced” him and his faith fully.
“The fact is that my father in law is an incredibly loving and tolerant person who has embraced my family and our Judaism since I began dating my wife,” Kushner wrote. “His support has been unwavering and from the heart.”
So, who is Jared Kushner? He’s his father-in-law’s unofficial adviser, a former Democrat, a campaign Jack of all trades and increasingly one of the key figures in the Trump campaign team.
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