If it’s true that Jared Kushner met with his father-in-law on Wednesday to discuss taking the job of White House chief of staff, then we’re nearing the endgame for this administration. This would be an insult too big to ignore and signal a final hunkering down. For starters, Kushner is every bit as much of a target of federal and state investigators as the president. Then there’s the whole security clearance issue, because presumably a president’s chief of staff has the highest clearance you can get. And, finally, just today the Senate condemned Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who happens to be BFF’s with Jared Kushner, by voting to end support for the war in Yemen.
Kushner and his wife Ivanka ― known derisively by White House critics as “Javanka” ― face considerable opposition from both inside and outside the West Wing because of concerns about nepotism as well as worries about Kushner’s judgment. He has had to repeatedly file addendums to his financial disclosure forms since joining the White House. More recently, he has become a strong advocate for the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman ― who U.S. intelligence agencies believe ordered the murder of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi after luring him to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
“Tone-deaf” wouldn’t begin to adequately describe a decision to make Kushner chief of staff. If it happens, it can only be out of sheer desperation and the fact that the Trump family has run out of people they feel they can trust. In The Godfather terms, it would be like Vito Corleone’s adopted son Tom Hagan taking over as consigliere after Genco Abbandando died of cancer or like Michael Corleone making Hagan acting boss after surviving an attempt on his life. Except, Jared is more like Fredo than Tom Hagan.
With Kushner as chief of staff, Trump would have a true partner in crime at the helm, and that’s probably the upside for him. He wouldn’t have to explain or hide things from his chief of staff anymore, and he’d be comforted to know that if he goes down, his lieutenant will go down with him. With that knowledge, at least he could count on a robust defense.