Kushner's Testimony Illuminates the Dangers of Nepotism By Luke Perry
Jared Kushner, who testified today in a closed session before the Senate Intelligence Committee, would have already been fired if he were not the son-in-law of the president. Kushner has significantly amended multiple disclosures since becoming a Senior White House Adviser to President Trump, including his national security clearance form, which inaccurately claimed he had no meetings with foreign governments.
Kushner has subsequently disclosed over 100 calls or meetings with foreign representatives and contends the form “was prematurely submitted due to miscommunication.” This includes four meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and transition period, a focus of today’s testimony. Kushner also has amended his financial disclosures to include 77 assets “inadvertently omitted.”
House Democrats, Senate Democrats, and the DNC have called for Kushner’s security clearance to be suspended until the investigation of him potentially colluding with the Russians is complete. This is undeniably a partisan issue for Democrats. In fact, it’s a partisan issue for both parties.
Republicans and Democrats differ sharply on whether pursuing better relations with Russia is good for the country, whether Russia’s cyber attacks in the 2016 election pose a major threat, and whether President Trump did something illegal in relation to Russia.
Partisanship is deeply embedded in this issue, like nearly everything else in contemporary American society. This doesn’t change the fact that Kushner made serious errors in obtaining the highest level of national security clearance.
Kushner’s written statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee states that: “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.” The Special Counsel will fully investigate this and make a determination on behalf of the American people.
As I’ve previous explained, having an “untouchable” family member with a senior role in the White House makes it very difficult to remove him or her from power should the circumstances merit it. This also increases the potential for the president to ask his family, giving their level of comfort and trust, to engage in potentially unethical and/or illegal behavior.
No matter what the outcome, nepotism, which brought Jared Kushner to this post, and keeps him there, must not become normalized at the highest levels of government. This is not good for the Trump presidency, either party, American government, or the country. Kushner’s testimony today provided a spotlight on a serious problem largely overshadowed by other challenges facing the Trump administration.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College. His column Sound Off! critiques various aspects of presidential politics.