Two Data Points on Jared Kushner

I wanted to pull out two data points in this profile of Jared Kushner, completed in the wake of the WaPo story that Kushner attempted to set up a back channel with Russia.

First, as other stories have, this one blames Kushner for encouraging Trump to fire Jim Comey.

But in recent weeks, the Trump-Kushner relationship, the most stable partnership in an often unstable West Wing, is showing unmistakable signs of strain.

That relationship had already begun to fray a bit after Mr. Trump’s dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, which Mr. Kushner had strongly advocated, and because of his repeated attempts to oust Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, as well as the president’s overburdened communications team, especially Sean Spicer, the press secretary.

[snip]

Other times, he serves as a goad, as he did in urging Mr. Comey’s ouster and assuring Mr. Trump that it would be a political “win” that would neutralize protesting Democrats because they had called for Mr. Comey’s ouster over his handling of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to six West Wing aides.

I’ve pointed out before how the investigation into Mike Flynn might, with his cooperation, put Kushner at risk. But I’m interested in the new detail that Kushner assured his father that Democrats would love the firing of Comey because of Comey’s handling of the Hillary investigation.

I can see how a dummie might believe that. But I’m at least as interested in how pitching that theory for Comey’s firing implicated Rod Rosenstein, insofar as he wrote a letter providing the fig leaf Hillary-based justification for the firing, and thereby led to the naming of Robert Mueller. Rosenstein is still the Acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation now looking more closely at Kushner, and Kushner has effectively already compromised him.

Amid its larger narrative that Kushner and Trump actually haven’t been that close all that long, the NYT also reminds that Kushner got a lot of credit from his father-in-law for reviving the digital aspect of the campaign.

Mr. Kushner’s reported feeler to the Russians even as President Barack Obama remained in charge of American foreign policy was a trademark move by someone with a deep confidence in his abilities that critics say borders on conceit, people close to him said. And it echoes his history of sailing forth into unknown territory, including buying a newspaper at age 25 and developing a data-analytics program that he has said helped deliver the presidency to his father-in-law.

[snip]

Despite the perception that he is the one untouchable adviser in the president’s inner circle, Mr. Kushner was not especially close to his father-in-law before the 2016 campaign. The two bonded when Mr. Kushner helped to take over the campaign’s faltering digital operation and to sell a reluctant Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox News’s parent company, on the viability of his father-in-law’s candidacy by showing him videos of Mr. Trump’s rally during a lunch at Fox headquarters in mid-2015.

There lots of reasons to look askance at Trump’s data program, even before you consider that it was so central in a year where Trump’s opponent got hacked. So I find it notable (which is where I’ll leave it, for now) that Kushner’s role in the digital side of the campaign was so central to his perceived closeness to Trump.

Ultimately, I keep noting that Kushner hasn’t really been part of the Trump family for that long — just eight years. While I certainly believe Trump looks on the father of his grandchildren as part of the family, I’m not sure how much real vetting they’ve done of him (and with this crowed, everyone is corrupt in any case).

It will be interesting to see, going forward, what bases for mutual loyalty — such as it exists between these two men — there are.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

17 replies
    • harpie says:

      JΞSŦΞR ΔCŦUΔL³³º¹@th3j35t3r

      @realDonaldTrump << account has gained over 5 million followers in less than 3 days. Mostly bots. He’s getting ready for something. / #FLASH Multiple people now reporting their account followed @realdonaldtrump without them doing it. Check ur account. / 

  1. harpie says:

     

     And then, there’s the story of the Fox News story about Kushner [“Jared Kushner didn’t suggest Russian communications channel in meeting, source says”]
     David Folkenflik‏Verified account @davidfolkenflik

    1/ Much doubt expressed on unbylined Fox online piece that cited unnamed source to exonerate Kushner on Russia/ […] 6/ Herridge moments ago on Shep Smith’s show attributed story to “a source who has talked to Kushner tells Fox News…” / 7/ You know who talks to Kushner as well as Trump? Fox News acting CEO & effective owner Rupert Murdoch. / 8/ Murdoch loves gathering and disseminating political gossip to editors et al. One of his delights as a newspaper proprietor./ […] 12/ But it is a story that aids the president’s son-in-law, who is something of a Murdoch protege. […]

     
    And the first response to that series of tweets reminds that Financial Times reported:

    Ivanka Trump oversaw Murdoch daughters’trust..Role underscores close ties between US president’s family and Fox News

    [Murdoch and his wife supposedly got Jared and Ivanka back together after a break-up in their [before marriage] relationship.] 
     
     

  2. Jum says:

    Marcy,

    What do you make of the Cohen refusal to cooperate with  investigations. Are there significant data points or timelines you have for him – he could easily be used by Jared and Donald as a go between with Russians. Specifically, did he travel to Prague and are there hints or clues whether he was surveilled doing so?

  3. Jum says:

    So what are the known connections between the data firm and Russians, or bots that act like Russians. Thanks

  4. lefty665 says:

    Lots of sense in your analysis.

    One quibble on Trump/Kushner’s data program, and that is it is compared to what? If compared to Mook and the Dems data it was a star. Your own state of Michigan was the poster child for the Dems failure. They were blindsided in the primary and failed to correct the defects for the general, apparently believing their model more closely predicted general election turnout than fractional primary. As the election approached, the Dems data also failed to alert them that they were in trouble.  Trump’s operation reportedly alerted them that the margin was closing, how, and encouraged them to redirect the candidate’s campaigning to the rust belt while Hillary headed for Arizona. I have no illusions that Kushner’s data operation was wonderful. It was however enough better than the Dems to allow Trump to campaign where he found the votes that beat Hillary while hers sent her in the other direction.

    You are exploring interesting territory with the Trump/Kushner relationship. I’m staying tuned.

     

  5. Charles says:

    I have to say, that NYT profile on Kushner is one of those pieces that most makes me dislike and distrust that publication.

     

    a pair of adjoining offices a few penny-loafer paces from his father-in-law’s desk [stereotype]

    an ill-defined role somewhere between princeling and President Trump’s shadow chief of staff [disparagement]

    spent the Sabbath in fretful seclusion [faux-insider tone] 

    The Observera once-edgy, salmon-hued broadsheet [faux-classy]  

     

    These kind of phrases, especially trying to convey that the authors have successfully wiretapped Jared Kushner’s brain, are part of the narrative-shaping the Times engages in when it doesn’t have any real news and is trying to entertain its readers. It’s Mean Girls /Kool Kids journalism of the type that was directed against Al Gore, Bill Clinton, “the left,” and “bloggers.”

     

    There’s plenty of dodgy financial deals to scrutinize. I wish the Times would spend its dwindling resources on those.

  6. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: BAH years after Snowden leaks, still does not have their OpSec together. This is serious bad.

    http://gizmodo.com/top-defense-contractor-left-sensitive-pentagon-files-on-1795669632/amp

    A cache of more than 60,000 files was discovered last week on a publicly accessible Amazon server, including passwords to a US government system containing sensitive information, and the security credentials of a lead senior engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the nation’s top intelligence and defense contractors. What’s more, the roughly 28GB of data contained at least a half dozen unencrypted passwords belonging to government contractors with Top Secret Facility Clearance.

    The NGA on Tuesday confirmed the leak to Gizmodo while stressing that no classified information had been disclosed. “NGA takes the potential disclosure of sensitive but unclassified information seriously and immediately revoked the affected credentials,” an agency spokesperson said. The Amazon server from which the data was leaked was “not directly connected to classified networks,” the spokesperson noted.

    [Sure, they are going to say nothing was disclosed, but that it a pure lie since anyone could have found the data, and they do not know who may have copied it. How did it get there? Sneakernet?]

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Ars covers this story too (so does /. but you do not want to go there).

      Possibly Amazon has some serious ‘bugs’ that maybe they do not want to dig into. So it may not entirely be BAH fault, other than relying on cloud service and not properly testing. But how does the data go from an Amazon Goverrment security level data centre to a regular data centre?
      (old man yells at clouds)

      A comment posted by ‘normally butters’ at this link:

      https://arstechnica.com/security/2017/05/defense-contractor-stored-intelligence-data-in-amazon-cloud-unprotected/?comments=1

      There are so many gotchas with S3. One of the lesser-known “features” is that when you copy objects from one bucket to another, the access-control metadata on the objects in the source bucket isn’t guaranteed to be preserved when they are copied to the destination bucket. I’ve had public objects become private when copied, and I’ve had private objects become public. I’ve pointed this out to Amazon and they said it’s a known issue that just hasn’t been prioritized.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Another possibility is that the internal Amazon data centre to data centre comms are not really secure. Ask google about that. After google found out from the Snowden leaks how NSA was intercepting on high backbones, google started encrypting their server to server traffic. I am sure that Amazon is well aware of that, and they *think* their server to server comms are secure. I certainly have my doubts if they are using RSA.

      So, lots of questions:

      Is Amazon really secure?

      Does Amazon really have some bad bugs?

      Is Amazon being attacked with a combination of BGP hijacking and insecure comms?

      Are they just a huge honeypot?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      One more comment from ars that caught my eye. By DoomHamster, 2nd page of comments, link:

      https://arstechnica.com/security/2017/05/defense-contractor-stored-intelligence-data-in-amazon-cloud-unprotected/?comments=1&start=40

      Top Secret by itself does not rate a SCIF.

      It is intel with the extra SCI codewords appended to the general classifications that requires a SCIF. I would give an example but I am still beholden to the agreements I signed oh so many years ago despite the fact that many of them have been declassified.

      Edit: One of my jobs, at one point, was to sanitize SCI rated intel and turn it into plain ol’ vanilla Top Secret or Secret for the brass.

      [So, this cleansing is foolproof? The pres can declassify by tweeting *stuff* that may have allegedly been fully cleaned/sanitized to properly reduce the security classification? Stuff can leak anyway. It is a form of metadata]

      [There should be no classification downgrade for dummies. (maybe a book to be written?). No, if you can not understand the meaning of the intel and *why* it is classified in a particular manner, you almost certainly should not be reading that intel in the first place. And certainly not leaking via tweet]]

  7. Phil Perspective says:

    While I certainly believe Trump looks on the father of his grandchildren as part of the family, I’m not sure how much real vetting they’ve done of him (and with this crowed, everyone is corrupt in any case).

     

    While it looks like they fashion themselves like a mafia family, they certainly don’t do any research.  At least not like Michael Corleone would have done.  Remember the scene with Connie and Merle Johnson?  Michael wouldn’t sanction her marriage to him because he didn’t have the first clue who Johnson was, among other reasons.

  8. larry porter says:

    The data company that Jared Kushner associated with, Cambridge Analytica (Steve Bannon ceo), helped him develop his Stealth Data Machine which provided the private link between Alpha Bank and Trump Tower plus had the bank and backing of Robert Mercer.

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