Report: Kushner met Muslim leaders before travel ban

Report: Kushner met Muslim leaders before travel ban
© Greg Nash

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner met with a group of Muslims leaders just weeks before President Trump issued his initial travel order in late January, BuzzFeed News reported Tuesday.

The meeting was held in January, ahead of Trump's inauguration, and included Muslim activists and businessmen, the report said, citing six people with direct knowledge of the meeting. It was meant to discuss the relationship between the incoming administration and American Muslims.

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The meeting included a prominent imam, a civil rights attorney, the director of a nonprofit that studies violent extremists and two venture capitalists, according to BuzzFeed.

During the discussion, Kushner, who is also Trump's son-in-law, reportedly asked those in the room for ideas to improve the relationship between the president and the Muslim community. He also asked them for suggestions for certain administration jobs, including the White House liaison to Muslim communities.

Muslim Advocates, a legal advocacy nonprofit, confirmed it took part in the talks.

“We thought discussing our nation’s founding values and freedom for Americans of all faiths was the responsible thing to do before Mr. Trump came to power,” Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera, who was in the meeting, told BuzzFeed. 

“It soon became clear, however, that unless Trump makes drastic changes and shows he’s committed to being a president for all Americans, engagement is not an effective tool at this stage.”

Wa’el Alzayat, executive director of EmergeUSA, a nonprofit that pushes for Muslim political participation, said having these secret discussions is "giving the wrong signal that there's something wrong or sinister and it has to be done that way." 

“As far as I’m concerned, if that’s the kind of engagement happening, there’s no engagement," Alzayat, who did not know about the Kushner meeting, said.
 
"It doesn’t count."