- Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has come under increased scrutiny after reports surfaced last week claiming that he discussed setting up a secret communications channel with Russian officials late last year.
Kushner became a senior White House adviser in January. In preparation for the role, he resigned as CEO of Kushner Companies, a real estate development firm founded by his father, Charles Kushner, and as publisher of the New York Observer. The appointment led to accusations of nepotism and worries over possible conflicts of interest, although the Department of Justice said in an opinion before Kushner was sworn in that the appointment did not violate any laws.
But even before his formal appointment, Kushner played a significant role in his father-in-law’s presidential campaign.
Here are five things to know about the real estate mogul:
Kushner was born Jan. 10, 1981, in New Jersey. He is the eldest of four children born to Seryl and Charles Kushner.
He took over the family business at a young age after his father pleaded guilty in 2004 to charges of tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign contributions.
Charles Kushner was sentenced to two years in federal prison after making a plea deal with then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, The New York Times reported.
Amid a family dispute, Charles Kushner admitted to hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, arranging to secretly record the encounter and planning to send a copy of the tape to the man’s wife, Charles Kushner’s sister.
Jared Kushner became the public face of Kushner Companies when he was 24.
The Kushner family is worth an estimated $1.8 billion, according to Forbes.
Jared Kushner married Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, in 2009. The couple met in 2007 at a business lunch set up by friends who thought they might be able to work together, according to a 2015 Vogue profile of Ivanka Trump.
“They very innocently set us up thinking that our only interest in one another would be transactional,” Ivanka Trump told the fashion magazine. “Whenever we see them we’re like, (it was) the best deal we ever made.”
Ivanka Trump converted to her husband’s faith, Judaism, and the couple was married in 2009 at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Despite his lack of government experience, Jared Kushner has pull within the Trump administration and was described during the race for the White House as a “de facto campaign manager.”
His involvement propelled him into the spotlight.
“We don’t have kings and queens in America, so we treat our presidents and first ladies like kings and queens,” billionaire real estate mogul Jeff Greene told real estate news site The Real Deal. “Jared will be the prince.”
After Trump’s inauguration, Jared Kushner was named senior adviser to the president and was tasked with, among other things, brokering peace in the Middle East.
Kushner encouraged Trump to fire FBI director James Comey earlier this month, putting him in direct opposition to White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to Politico.
Kushner’s alleged communications with Russia have gained the FBI’s attention, according to a report in the Washington Post. Citing unidentified U.S. officials who were briefed on the situation, the Post claimed Kushner discussed creating a secret communications channel with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
The newspaper reported that Kushner asked about the possibility of creating such a channel in December during a meeting with ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The newspaper noted that Russia is known to feed false information through its communications streams in order to throw off possible snoopers. However, officials who spoke with the Post said it was unknown what Kislyak would have gained by lying about his communications with Kushner.