Kushner is the elder son of real-estate developer Charles Kushner and is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka. He was principal owner of the real-estate holding and development company Kushner Companies and of Observer Media, publisher of the New York Observer. He is the co-founder and part owner of Cadre, an online real-estate investment platform.
On January 9, 2017, Kushner was named as a senior White House advisor. He consequently resigned as CEO of Kushner Companies and as publisher of the Observer, but his private financial interests remain a subject of controversy. Kushner helped develop and run Trump's digital media strategy.
Kushner was born in Livingston, New Jersey, to Seryl Kushner (née Stadtmauer) and Charles Kushner, a real-estate developer. His paternal grandparents, Rae and Joseph Kushner, were Holocaust survivors who came to the U.S. in 1949 from Navahrudak, Belarus (then USSR).
Kushner was raised in a Modern Orthodox Jewish family. He graduated from the Frisch School, a coed yeshiva high school, in 1999. According to a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, he was an honors student and a member of the debate, hockey, and basketball teams. Former school officials described him as a "less than stellar" student. In 1998 Charles pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University.
Kushner matriculated at Harvard College in 1999. He lived in Kirkland House, was elected into the Fly Club, and bought and sold real estate in Somerville, Massachusetts, as a vice president of Somerville Building Associates (a division of Kushner Companies). His uncle, Kushner Companies partner Richard Stadtmauer, was also a vice president; the venture was dissolved in 2005 after returning a profit of $20 million. Kushner graduated from Harvard in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government.
In 2004 Charles Kushner was arrested on charges of tax evasion, illegal campaign donations, and witness tampering. He was prosecuted by then U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, convicted, and sentenced to two years in prison. In 2006 Stadtmauer was indicted on lesser counts, also by Christie; he received a three-year sentence.
In 2007, Kushner graduated from New York University, where he earned a JD and an MBA. He interned at Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's office and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
Kushner married Ivanka Trump, daughter of businessman and U.S. president Donald Trump, in a Jewish ceremony on October 25, 2009. They are Modern Orthodox Jews, keep a kosher home, and observe the Jewish Sabbath. Jared and Ivanka have three children, a girl and two boys. In 2017 federal disclosures suggested Kushner and his wife had assets worth at least $740 million.
Kushner is a real estate investor, and has increased the Kushner Companies' presence in the New York City real estate market as a principal in his family's real estate company.
Kushner Companies purchased the office building at the 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007, for a then-record price of $1.8 billion, most of it borrowed. Jared assumed the role of CEO of Kushner Companies in 2008. Following the property crash that year, the cash flow generated by the property was insufficient to cover its debt service, and the Kushners were forced to sell the retail portion in the building to Stanley Chera for more than $1 billion and bring in Vornado Realty Trust as a 50% equity partner in the ownership of the building. By that time, Kushner Companies had lost more than $90 million on its investment.
On August 18, 2014, Kushner acquired a three-building apartment portfolio in Middle River, Maryland, for $37.9 million with Aion Partners. In 2013–14, he and his company acquired more than 11,000 units throughout New York, New Jersey, and the Baltimore area. In May 2015, he purchased 50.1% of the Times Square Building from Africa Israel Investments Ltd. for $295 million.
In 2014, Kushner, with his brother Joshua and Ryan Williams, co-founded Cadre (now RealCadre LLC), an online real-estate investment platform. His business partners included Goldman Sachs and billionaire George Soros, a top Democratic Party donor. In early 2015, Soros Fund Management financed the startup with a $250 million credit line. Kushner did not identify these business relationships in his January 2017 government financial-disclosure form.
In 2015, Kushner scored spot No. 25 on Fortune's "40 Under 40" list ranking the most influential young people in business.
At age 25, Kushner purchased the New York Observer, a weekly New York City newspaper, for $10 million, using money he says he earned during his college years by closing deals on residential buildings in Somerville, Massachusetts, with family members providing the backing for his investments.
After purchasing the Observer, Kushner published it in tabloid format. Since then, he has been credited with increasing the Observer's online presence and expanding the Observer Media Group. With no substantial experience in journalism, Kushner could not establish a good relationship with the newspaper's veteran editor-in-chief, Peter W. Kaplan. "This guy doesn't know what he doesn't know," Kaplan remarked about Kushner, to colleagues, at the time. As a result of his differences with Kushner, Kaplan quit his position. Kaplan was followed by a series of short-lived successors until Kushner hired Elizabeth Spiers in 2011. In December 2011, the New York Post reported that the Observer expected to become profitable for the first time. Spiers left the newspaper in 2012. In January 2013, Kushner hired a new editor-in-chief, Ken Kurson. Kurson had been a consultant to Republican political candidates in New Jersey and one-time member of Rudy Giuliani's unsuccessful 2008 presidential primary campaign.
According to Vanity Fair, under Kushner, the "Observer has lost virtually all of its cultural currency among New York's elite, but the paper is now profitable and reporting traffic growth ... [it] boasts 6 million unique visitors per month, up from 1.3 million in January 2013". In April 2016, the New York Observer became one of only a handful of newspapers to officially endorse United States presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Republican primary, but the paper ended the campaign period by choosing not to back any presidential candidate at all.
Kushner stepped down from his newspaper role in January 2017 to pursue a role in President Donald Trump's administration. He was replaced by his brother-in-law, Joseph Meyer.
Jared Kushner had been a lifelong Democrat and had made major donations to its candidates for years before reportedly undergoing an "ideological conversion" and supporting the 2015–16 Trump campaign. Kushner has had no prior involvement in campaign politics or in government before his father-in-law, Trump's, campaign.
In April 2017, Politico Magazine published an article purporting to show long-term links between Kushner, Russian Jewish oligarchs, Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Jewish outreach organization Chabad-Lubavitch. The article was widely condemned, with the head of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt saying that it "evokes age-old myths about Jews".
From the outset of the presidential campaign of his father-in-law Donald Trump, Kushner was the architect of Trump's digital, online and social media campaigns, enlisting talent from Silicon Valley to run a 100-person social-media team dubbed "Project Alamo". Kushner has also helped as a speechwriter and was tasked with working to establish a plan for Trump's White House transition team. He was for a time seen as Trump's de facto campaign manager, succeeding Corey Lewandowski, who was fired in part on Kushner's recommendation in June 2016. He had been intimately involved with campaign strategy, coordinating Trump's visit in late August to Mexico and he is believed to be responsible for the choice of Mike Pence as Trump's running mate. Kushner's "sprawling digital fundraising database and social media campaign" has been described as "the locus of his father-in-law's presidential bid".
Federal Election Commission filings indicate the Trump campaign spent $343 million, about 59 percent as much as the Clinton campaign., "Jared Kushner is the biggest surprise of the 2016 election, stating, "Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources."
Schmidt also said, "Jared understood the online world in a way the traditional media folks didn't. He managed to assemble a presidential campaign on a shoestring using new technology and won. That's a big deal. Remember all those articles about how they had no money, no people, organizational structure? Well, they won, and Jared ran it." Peter Thiel said "If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer."
On July 5, 2016, Kushner wrote an open letter in the New York Observer addressing the controversy around a tweet from the Trump campaign containing allegedly antisemitic imagery. He was responding to his own paper's editorial by Dana Schwartz criticizing Kushner's involvement with the Trump campaign. In the letter, Kushner wrote, "In my opinion, accusations like 'racist' and 'anti-Semite' are being thrown around with a carelessness that risks rendering these words meaningless."
During the presidential transition, Kushner was said to be his father-in-law's "confidant" and one of Donald Trump's closest advisors, even more so than Trump's four adult children. Trump was reported to have requested the top-secret security clearance for him to attend the Presidential daily intelligence briefings as his staff-level companion, along with General Mike Flynn who already had the clearance prior to his resignation.
The Washington Post, The New York Times and numerous other national news authorities explain Kushner was an influential factor behind the firing of New Jersey governor Chris Christie as head of the transition team, as well as the dismissal from the Donald Trump transition team of anyone connected to Christie. As a source familiar with the Trump campaign explained, "Jared doesn't like Christie. He's always held [the prosecution of his father, [Charles Kushner] against Christie." Kushner told Forbes that the reports that he was involved in Christie's dismissal were false: "Six months ago, Governor Christie and I decided this election was much bigger than any differences we may have had in the past, and we worked very well together. The media has speculated on a lot of different things, and since I don't talk to the press, they go as they go, but I was not behind pushing out him or his people."
On January 9, 2017, Kushner was named Senior Advisor to the President. Kushner's appointment was questioned on the basis of a 1967 anti-nepotism law. On January 20, 2017, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion stating "the President may appoint relatives to his immediate staff of advisors." Kushner was sworn in on January 22, 2017. His formal title is "Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor".
Trump put Kushner in charge of brokering peace in Israeli–Palestinian conflict as well as making deals with foreign countries, although in what way he is in charge is unclear. Furthermore, after Donald Trump became President-elect, Kushner and his wife met with Japanese Prime Minister and other Japanese officials while his wife was conducting a licensing deal between her namesake clothing brand and a Japanese government-owned company. His wife sat in on a meeting between her father, then President-elect Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In February 2017, his wife Ivanka Trump was a surprise attendee at the Chinese Embassy's New Year's party. In late March 2017, he was also given the new role of leading the "White House Office of American Innovation".
According to The New York Times, Kushner was involved in the sale of $100+ billion of arms to Saudi Arabia, and during a meeting with Saudi officials on May 1, 2017, at the White House, Kushner called Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson to ask for a lower price on an radar system to detect ballistic missiles.
Kushner's business activities in China have drawn scrutiny for mixing government with business. Kushner's investments in real estate and financial services have also drawn controversy for conflicts of interest. In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that he had failed to disclose all required financial information in his security clearance applications, including that he owes $1 billion in loans.
Kushner's contacts with Russian officials have come under scrutiny as part of the larger federal investigation into Russian interference in the election.
In April 2017, it was revealed that Kushner failed to disclose on his top-secret security clearance application form that he had met with Russian officials, including Sergei Gorkov, chairman of a Russian government-owned bank, Vnesheconombank (VEB), and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that Kushner met with Gorkov briefly as part of his role in the transition and as a diplomatic conduit to the State Department. However, VEB issued a statement that said Gorkov met with Kushner on a private matter concerning his family's real estate corporation, Kushner Companies, even though VEB has been under international sanctions since July 2014. Kushner's lawyer has called the omission from his security clearance form an "oversight." Democratic lawmakers, including some members of the House of Representatives, have called for suspension or revoking of Kushner's security clearance, and have written request letters to the then Director of the FBI James Comey and Charles Phalen, director of the National Background Investigations Bureau.
On May 25, 2017, several news outlets reported that Kushner was under investigation by the FBI as part of the larger investigation into Russian interference in the election. According to The Washington Post, Kushner is being investigated "because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians", meetings he failed to report on his security clearance application form. Kushner's lawyer stated that Kushner had volunteered to face a Congressional inquiry into the matter. According to ABC News, Kushner himself is not a target of investigation but his meetings with Gorkov and Kislyak are being scrutinized by the FBI.
On May 26, 2017, The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence officials had, in the course of monitoring Ambassador Kislyak in December 2016, overheard him relaying to Moscow a request from Kushner to establish a "secret and secure communications channel" with the Kremlin using Russian diplomatic facilities. According to the report, "Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion ... that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team." The Washington Post noted that Russian officials occasionally leak "false information into communication streams it suspects are monitored as a way of sowing misinformation and confusion among U.S. analysts," but that U.S. officials stated it was unclear what Kislyak would have gained by falsely reporting such an encounter at a time when the Kremlin was envisioning improved diplomatic relations under the incoming Trump administration. The New York Times reported that it had confirmed Kislyak's report with three officials and that the White House declined to comment on the report.
On May 27, 2017, Reuters published that Kushner had three previously undisclosed contacts with Kislyak, including two phone calls from April 2016 to November 2016, citing seven current and former U.S. officials. Jamie Gorelick, Kushner's attorney, told Reuters that Kushner had participated in "thousands of calls in this time period" and did not recall any with Kislyak.
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