It sounds like President Trump is coming to a slow realization that nepotism might work in business, but in politics, not so much.
Politico is reporting on the troublesome nature of the Trump White House, as they attempt to maneuver around son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, as well as daughter Ivanka Trump.
By all accounts, Kushner and Ivanka were used to doing what they wanted, when they wanted, and having Trump’s ear on most issues.
One such example of the power struggle came during the summer, after meetings on Capitol Hill with Democrats regarding DACA.
John Kelly, then the head of Homeland Security thought he was on top of that, until someone whispered in his ear that Jared Kushner was still trying to call the shots.
The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Kelly learned, had been quietly back-channeling with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Kushner, Democratic Hill aides confirmed, had discussed with the two senators a potential deal to protect Dreamers from deportation.
Kelly, according to three sources familiar with the exchange, was livid, not at the content of the discussions — he has said he personally supports DACA — but that they were going on without his knowledge. He called senior White House officials and demanded a meeting with Trump to deliver something of an ultimatum: If Kushner was going to freelance on DHS issues, the president would have to choose between his son-in-law and the four-star general serving in his Cabinet.
It was knows that dynamic that caused John Kelly to hesitate before taking the job as chief of staff.
Then there have been the multiple foul ups from Kushner with everything from his failure to disclose meetings and business associations that might be troublesome on his security clearance forms, to the private email accounts that are now gaining attention.
Since Kelly put his firm grip on the West Wing in July, however, the role of the Trump children has shifted. Aides claim the couple was eager for a more functional work environment, and have been happy to fall in line with Kelly’s rules.
But Kushner has also complained to friends and allies about his stunted status in the new regime. He can no longer simply float in and out of the Oval Office, or function in the freewheeling role he has grown used to since the campaign, he has told associates. That marks a change of status for the former real estate scion, who before working as a free-ranging agent for his father-in-law, served as the top dog at his family-owned real estate company in Manhattan.
Kushner’s stand-alone Office of American Innovation, the platform from which he serves as the main point of contact for the tech industry, has received more “scrutiny” since Kelly started, according to a senior administration official.
In other words, he’s not the power behind the throne, anymore.
The president has expressed concern about Ivanka’s image on social media, as well as how she and Jared are viewed by the public.
I don’t know how much they care, especially when they’re that close to power, but it’s apparently something the president is thinking about.
While Kelly is putting structure back in the White House, he still has to deal with the Jared and Ivanka problem.
It’s not just Kelly who is uncertain of how to make the arrangement work. In recent months, according to multiple administration officials, the president has also been casually surveying people close to him about whether having his family members in the government is creating too much noise.
“Baby, you’re getting killed, this is a bad deal,” Trump has told Ivanka Trump, in front of other staffers, after soaking in the criticisms of the role his daughter is playing.
White House lawyers have already put the idea out to Trump to have Kushner step down. They even drafted a letter to explain his departure, but it has yet to happen, and Kushner seems to end up in deeper, more twisted messes.
That has to be a difficult situation. How do you fire your daughter’s husband – or your daughter – without risking a family scene?