Kushner’s handling of meetings with Chinese unnerved some officials: report

Kushner’s handling of meetings with Chinese unnerved some officials: report
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerGeorge Will charges that Trump colluded with Putin DNC claims Secret Service blocked attempt to deliver lawsuit against Kushner On The Money: US files complaints at WTO | House leaders get deal to boost biz investment | Mnuchin says US will consider Iran sanctions waivers | FCC deals blow to Sinclair-Tribune merger MORE reportedly held a number of meetings with China's ambassador without experts on China in the room, unnerving some current and former U.S. officials.

Kushner met with China's ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, as well as Yang Jiechi, the country's top diplomat, during the transition at his office at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City, The New Yorker reports. Kushner also reportedly met with Cui in the White House upon joining the administration.

At least some of those meetings were attended by then-national security adviser Michael Flynn, while others Kushner attended alone or with close aides instead of experts on China policy, according to the report.

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Meetings held in the past between Cui and the Obama administration were held with multiple experts present on the U.S. side, the magazine noted.

In the months after Trump was sworn in, Kushner met with Cui multiple times after meeting at least three times during the transition period.

Kushner's tendency to meet with the diplomats with a small staff or none at all unnerved some current and former U.S. officials, including one former senior official who was briefed on the meetings and spoke to The New Yorker under the condition of anonymity.

“There’s nobody else there in the room to verify what was said and what wasn’t, so the Chinese can go back and claim anything,” the official said. “I’m sorry, Jared—do you think your background is going to allow you to be able to outsmart the Chinese Ambassador?” 

One former member of the National Security Council (NSC) said that Kushner was "utterly unflanked" on China policy by anyone who "could find Beijing on the map."

"He went in utterly unflanked by anyone who could find Beijing on a map,” the official said. "It was a dream come true. They couldn’t believe he was so compliant.”

Kushner was reportedly integral to convincing Trump to back off his threat to move away from the United States's "One China" policy in the early weeks of his administration.

The president's son-in-law became Chinese diplomats' "lucky charm" in Washington, the former NSC member said.

A spokesman for Kushner responded to The New Yorker's story, saying that none of the China specialists in the administration told him “he shouldn’t be doing it the way he was doing it at the time.”

Kushner was the subject of controversy last year after he failed to disclose contacts with some foreign officials upon entering the Trump administration. The president's son-in-law still does not have a permanent security clearance one year after Trump's inauguration.