Jared Kushner (Wikimedia Commons) Credit: Jared Kushner (Wikimedia Commons)

“Shrewd” is not the word that comes to mind when describing the Trump White House’s media operation. “Blunt” and “heavyhanded” come more readily to mind.

So when both the New York Times and the Washington Post both come out with stories about Kushner’s supposedly much diminished role in policy-making, one has to wonder what exactly is going on.

Both stories highlight the notion (true without doubt) that Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House made both Jared and Ivanka’s jobs easier, letting them play less defense within the Administration and focus more on their core roles. But if that’s all there was to it, there’s not really a story there. Why would anyone from the White House to the editorial boards care, particularly when there’s so much other compelling news? And why would insiders be floating so many rumors of the couple’s potential departure from DC to New York that Kushner would feel the need to openly push back on them to the press?

It seems far likelier that someone in the White House is feeling the need to inoculate the White House from the fallout surrounding Kushner and the Mueller probe. With the news that Mueller may have flipped former national security advisor Michael Flynn, Kushner would be the next target in line due to his dealings with Flynn and contacts with Russian agents. Mueller’s dominoes seem pretty clear: use Flynn Jr. to get to Flynn, use Flynn to get to Kushner, use Kushner to get to the Big Kahuna.

The big question has been whether The Don would leave Jared flapping in the wind, and whether Jared would fall on his sword for his father-in-law. Neither seem likely, but it would be logical for forward thinkers in the White House to try to begin easing Jared and Ivanka away from the scene–particularly since Ivanka isn’t exactly staying on message, anyway.

This is all just speculation, of course. On Twitter, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman suggests there’s nothing to see behind the curtain, after all. But it certainly seems that there is more to these not-so-coincidental stories than meets the eye, and it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what’s probably going on.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.