This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
What does it mean to send two family businesses into the White House? I'm referring to the Trump Organization and the family real estate firm of Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. And that's not even to mention Ivanka Trump's ongoing fashion line, produced by desperately underpaid women and children in "shithole" countries. Let's just say, as with so much involving this president, that it's been a unique experience so far. If you're in the mood to consider what that means in a leisurely fashion, I suggest that you join all those foreign diplomats and lobbyists at the Trump International Hotel just down the street from the White House. Order a glass of Trump-branded champagne, chow down on a $60 steak, finish your night off with a $24 chocolate cigar, and ponder the state of American politics in 2018.
Unpaid senior adviser Kushner, in particular, has been a genuine piece of work. I doubt any significant member of any White House has ever conducted quite so many personal business meetings in the guise of doing the country's business. I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that it's caused a few glitches along the way. As the Guardian pointed out recently, Kushner has "had to make more than 100 revisions to his security-clearance application [and] his financial filings had to be amended 39 times in four months after he 'inadvertently omitted' millions of dollars in assets." So it goes when you turn the Oval Office and adjacent quarters into your own personal business playpen.
Rumors are now afloat that Kushner, reportedly in the crosshairs of both the Mueller investigation and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, might join the horde of staffers who have, in recent months, been stampeding for the exits. Like any self-respecting media outlet, TomDispatch has to prepare for the inevitable in life -- and what's more inevitable, especially in the Trump era, than death? (I'm referring, of course, to political death.) Knowing just how predictable death is in an otherwise unpredictable world, newspapers regularly prepare obituaries for the well known while they still live. In that spirit, we've asked TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author of the upcoming book Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, who has long been following the business dealings of the Trump family empire, to prepare Kushner's political obituary. And we decided to take one further step: since it's next to impossible to stay ahead of the roiling mass of people exiting the White House these days, we thought we'd release it just a tad ahead of schedule. Tom
Jared Kushner, R.I.P.
A Political Obituary for the President's Son-in-Law
By Nomi Prins
Here we are a little more than a year into the Trump presidency and his administration's body count is already, as The Donald might put it, "unbelievable, perhaps record-setting."
Among the casualtie s are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; my former boss at Goldman Sachs, economic policy chief Gary Cohn; National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; FBI Director James Comey; White House Press Secretary and Communications Director Sean Spicer; four other communications directors including Hope Hicks who, having been Ivanka Trump's confidante, was elevated to the status of the president's "real daughter" before her own White House exit; chief strategist Steve Bannon; Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; a bunch of other instant relics of Trumpian political history, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Actually, a 200-year-old magnolia uprooted from the White House grounds thanks to the first lady.)- Advertisement -
Responding to Hope Hicks' departure and, perhaps subliminally, the rumored future exile of son-in-law Jared Kushner, the president typically half-lamented and half-quipped, "So many people have been leaving the White House. It's invigorating, since you want turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Who's going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?"
Melania has been unavailable for comment on her own possible future place among the fallen of the Trump era. Perhaps, though, she'll hang around and offer her husband a little comfort in Stormy weather, as rumors continue to circulate that his perfectly real daughter and her all-too-real husband may be ousted from the premises.
Not surprisingly, personnel issues seem to be on the president's mind these days. On March 6th, in the East Room of the White House and flanked by the Swedish prime minister, he boasted, "So many people want to come in. I have a choice of anybody. I could take any position in the White House, and I'll have a choice of the 10 top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there."
However, with constant media conjectures about yet more departures including National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and possibly even White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, there seems to be a predisposition to move out of, not into, this Oval Office. In a remarkably short space of time, President Trump has already achieved a record 43% turnover rate for top-level staff members, some of whom may be jumping ship in hopes of emerging with reputations relatively untarred, while avoiding lengthy prison sentences.
As collateral damage in his world mounts, it seems as if the only members of the Trump Empire, White House division, guaranteed job security are his lawyers and perhaps Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Even that most nuclear of families -- his -- seemed in peril of exploding, as the countdown to Kushner's exit approaches the zero hour. It looks as if we may all have scored front-row seats for the latest you're-fired episode in the White House reality show.
Given the not-if-but-when nature of Kushner's departure from the White House, it's none too soon for media outlets to prepare themselves. With that in mind, here is a prospective political obituary for him.- Advertisement -
Bringing Peace to a Riven World
The political career of Jared Kushner met a slow death from unparalleled incompetence, conflicts of interest, and financial sleights of hand. He is survived by his father-in-law Donald Trump and -- though no one knows for how long -- his wife, Ivanka. At age 37, he had held the role of White House senior adviser and assistant to the president since the day Donald Trump entered the Oval Office. Just two months later, his wife agreed to take a similar advisory position. Though together they were reported to be worth a mere $740 million, they generously offered to do their new jobs without pay from a sense of duty to country and the kindness of their hearts -- and also perhaps to avoid running afoul of an anti-nepotism law passed in 1967 when Lyndon B. Johnson was president.
Jared's year-plus in the White House proved another Trump-style record setter, a pro bono financial odyssey of a sort no previous White House had ever witnessed. While traveling the globe to carry out his "duties" and hobnob, negotiate, and pose for endless photo-ops with world leaders from Iraq, China, Israel, and a host of other countries -- a role once upon a time filled by the secretary of state -- the overworked adviser somehow found a few moments to cash in his diplomatic air-miles big time.