Jared Kushner has formed a tight bond with Steve Bannon, the Donald Trump chief strategist from the periphery of “alt-right” nationalism.
But Kushner, 36, also talks often with Bill de Blasio. “I respect him a lot,” and “find him to be a very reasonable person” — much more so than “other people who’ve been named to other positions” by Trump, New York’s progressive mayor said Monday.
Positive reviews from such diverse points on the political spectrum make all the more intriguing the role that Trump is giving his son-in-law as a senior White House adviser — a “first among equals,” one former campaign official told The New York Times.
Kushner’s Democratic roots may encourage those wishing for a force for moderation. But he warmed to Trump’s hard-edged message during the campaign.
In manner, he is mild to Trump’s wild. Both have run their respective families’ multibillion-dollar real estate businesses. Neither has government experience.
Deconflicting the interests
To comply with ethics laws, Kushner will step down from the Kushner Companies real estate group and also divest assets such as common stock and foreign investments, Politico reported. He also will no longer be publisher of the New York Observer.
Trump’s team says they’re confident his appointment won’t violate federal anti-nepotism law. He won’t draw a federal salary.
There are no current plans for Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, to take a formal position.
The take-away: Agenda bender
If House Speaker Paul Ryan bows to Trump’s position and doesn’t seek a major reworking of Social Security and Medicare, it will be one sign the congressional GOP is casting off a long-standing conservative policy point.
Another may come if it buys into the build-now, pay-later ideas of Trump’s infrastructure program. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.
For her before he was against her
The Trump insult machine spun into gear after actress Meryl Streep used the stage of Sunday night’s Golden Globe awards to cast the president-elect as a “bully.”
Trump told the Times in a brief interview that he was “not surprised” that he had come under attack from “liberal movie people.” Hours later, he tweeted that Streep is “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” and a “Hillary flunky.”
But not long ago, Trump was a fan. When asked in an August 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter if he “loved” any actresses. Trump said, “Meryl Streep is excellent; she’s a fine person, too.” See Laura Figueroa’s story for Newsday.
For him after he was against him
In that very same interview, Trump recalled how he had been miffed at News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, who had tweeted a month before that Trump was “embarrassing his friends.”
“He had some very evil tweets, and now they’ve been nice lately. I don’t understand it,” Trump told The Hollywood Reporter interviewer.
On Monday morning, Trump tweeted: “Rupert Murdoch is a great guy who likes me much better as a very successful candidate than he ever did as a very successful developer!”
New York Magazine reported last week that Trump has asked Murdoch, whose media empire includes the Fox networks, to recommend nominees as chair of the Federal Communications Commission.
The over-rated and over-baited
Streep joins a long list of those Trump has trashed as “over-rated” on Twitter — often, but not always, usually because he was aggrieved by something they said. Here are some of the others:
Jerry Seinfeld, Megyn Kelly, the cast of “Hamilton,” Jon Stewart, columnists George Will and Charles Krauthammer, Sen. Marco Rubio, President Barack Obama, architect Richard Meier, both Clintons and Karl Rove. Trump also once retweeted someone who called him “over-rated.”
If you like lists, The Associated Press has this one of Streep’s awards:
Trump digressed from his post-midnight venting to the Times about Streep to predict a record turnout for his inauguration, pushing back at indicators of so-so attendance.
“All the dress shops are sold out in Washington,” Trump said. “It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”
Of course, news organizations checked with Washington retailers in the morning. They found there is no shortage.
“I’m stuffed with beautiful gowns,” said Martha Slagle, a top manager of a Neiman Marcus, to The Washington Post. Peter Marx, owner of Saks Jandel, told People magazine: “There’s never been less demand for inaugural ballgowns in my 38 years.”
What else is happening
- Sen. Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing Tuesday creates a key question: How much might he let the president politically interfere in Justice Department business?
- Sessions failed to disclose in ethics filings his ownership of mineral rights under land adjacent to a federal wildlife preserve in his home state of Alabama, the Washington Post reports.
- Speaking briefly with reporters in the Trump Tower lobby, the president-elect said Monday he’s “not even a little bit” worried about how Republicans will replace Obamacare.
- Trump’s social-media ways have created a worry for U.S. allies, BuzzFeed reports. “Our leadership might be less willing to share important information that’s sensitive for fear of seeing it on Twitter,” said a French defense official.
- Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told CNN the media misjudges his intentions because, “You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”
- Top Trump aides met with Ryan and his policy staff Monday night to discuss overhauling the tax code.
- Trump plans to give his Cabinet secretaries wide latitude to run their departments, but will jump in if he sees something as a problem, including bad publicity, Politico reports.
- The threat by Trump to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities — those that offer protection to immigrants without documentation — could hurt police forces he has promised to stand by, BuzzFeed says.