Jared Kushner
Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr

When it came time for President Bush to accede to political reality and consent to the formation of a commission to investigate the 9/11 attacks, he thought it would be a great idea for Henry Kissinger to chair the thing, but it didn’t work out because Kissinger wouldn’t divulge his contractual relationships to Saudi princes or anyone else. When it came to selecting Democrats, that was fairly easy. Lee Hamilton had helped Dick Cheney bury the Iran-Contra investigation in the House way back in the 1980s. Tim Roehmer had distinguished himself by creating “a key swing bloc of votes against liberal Democrats” during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska was always game for bashing some hippies and accusing liberals of engaging in “class warfare.” Richard Ben-Veniste had surface credibility from his time as chief of the Watergate Task Force. And then there was Jamie Gorelick, who had served as Deputy Attorney General from 1994 to 1997, during the Clinton administration. In that role, she authored a memo that some later said had the effect of restricting the flow of intelligence communications. The right then blamed Gorelick for preventing the CIA and FBI from coordinating effectively enough to thwart the 9/11 attacks. From the Bush administration’s perspective, this made her an attractive candidate for the commission.

Bush and Cheney probably also sensed that Gorelick was the kind of person who would later lobby against student loan reform and now serves as Jared Kushner’s attorney, explaining to rubes like us why “although officials leading federal agencies are barred from hiring relatives, the White House is not an agency and thus exempt.”

I don’t know how good her legal advice really is, considering that her client managed to bungle his paperwork:

When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest…

…The Senate Intelligence Committee informed the White House weeks ago that, as part of its inquiry, it planned to question Mr. Kushner about the meetings he arranged with Mr. Kislyak, including the one with Sergey N. Gorkov, a graduate of Russia’s spy school who now heads Vnesheconombank…

…While officials can lose access to intelligence, or worse, for failing to disclose foreign contacts, the forms are often amended to address lapses. Jamie Gorelick, Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, said that the questionnaire was submitted prematurely on Jan. 18, and that the next day, Mr. Kushner’s office told the F.B.I. that he would provide supplemental information.

As Charles Pierce astutely asks, “who among us hasn’t forgotten about the times we met Russian spies who own banks?”

It would have been nice if the election of Donald Trump actually signaled an end to the kind of incestuous relationships that allowed the Democratic nominee for president to praise the man who committed war crimes for Nixon, or for Jared Kushner to hire a Cheney-approved “Democratic” 9/11 commissioner as his personal pro-nepotism representative who will cover for his high-level national security lapses.

Alas, that was not the case.

There’s a swamp to be drained, certainly. Trump and Kushner just aren’t the ones to do it.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com