Budowsky: The Jared Kushner affair

Budowsky: The Jared Kushner affair
© Greg Nash

White House super-aide and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner now takes center stage in the wilderness of mirrors of Cold War-like intrigue surrounding the election and presidency of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE that may well determine the fate of the Trump presidency, the future of NATO and control of Congress after the 2018 midterm elections.

We do not know for certain whether Kushner and former national security adviser Michael Flynn conducted secret meetings with key Russians during the transition seeking to create a covert channel of communications with Russia, using Russian-only communications networks, designed to exclude the American government from conversations between Team Trump and Team Russia.


If these discussions did occur as alleged, consider the ominous implications.

If American counterintelligence investigators became aware of conversations designed to create a Russian-only network of communication during the transition, there is a real possibility they would have sought a warrant to monitor Kushner, in which case they would have monitored conversations involving everyone Kushner talked to, including Trump. Think about it.

It was disheartening to hear Gen. H.R. McMaster, the current national security adviser whom I strongly supported when he was named, incorrectly suggest it would be normal and acceptable if Kushner sought a Russian-only channel of communication to exclude the entire American government from discussions between the Trump transition and the Russian government, or Russian bankers with close ties to Russian intelligence.

Kushner may have many virtues, but he is manifestly unqualified to play a dominant and decisive role at the center of global security. He lacks any experience or knowledge to justify placing him at the center of world security such as spearheading America’s relationship with Russia, which is waging a war of espionage and cyberattacks against American and Western democracy.

At best, Kushner is a talented 36-year-old real estate executive who got in way over his head being injected to the center of dangerous matters including Russian aggression, espionage and subversion of democracy.

At worst, if Kushner did seek to create during the transition an unprecedented and unacceptable means of covert communication with an enemy of America in a way designed to exclude all American government officials from whatever they discussed, the result will probably be disastrous for all concerned.

Whatever the motives and actions of Kushner and Trump, it was inexcusable and disastrous for Trump to attend the recent Group of Seven summit and act in a way that created further breaches between America and our European allies and provided a strategic victory for Vladimir Putin and Russia, who seek to divide us.

Trump himself, in a recent tweet, suggested he believes some of the epidemic of leaks that plague his administration originated from within his own White House. He is almost certainly right about this. At a time of crisis for his presidency, a White House divided against itself cannot stand.

Trump’s problems involve fundamental matters of governance and security that cannot be solved by a “war room,” public relations or minor shakeups.

Trump should name someone such as former White House chief of staff James Baker, who served President Reagan well, as a temporary executive chairman of his White House staff to offer Trump advice he desperately needs to hear and to crack the whip to set things right with his staff, Congress and the media.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.