President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will be heading the newly created White House innovation office. The office will be tasked with forging partnerships between the federal government and the tech sector, as well as cleaning up the bureaucracy.
Kushner is one of the powers behind the throne of Trump, yet he has not received the same scrutiny that chief strategist Steve Bannon has. Who exactly is Jared Kushner? Here are seven things you need to know about him.
1. Kushner first met Ivanka Trump at a business lunch in 2007. A real estate developer thought the two meeting each other would be a great opportunity to network; it ended up creating the power couple behind the future Trump presidency. Kushner and Ivanka initially denied they were dating, but eventually admitted to their relationship. They called each other "J-Vanka" for awhile and were eventually married in 2009.
2. Kushner and Donald Trump became close while Kushner was dating his daughter. Kushner decided to talk to Trump about his relationship with Ivanka, prompting the future president to say, "You'd better be serious on this." The two became close through Ivanka and their real estate businesses.
3. Kushner's father, Charles Kushner, served a two year-prison sentence due to a myriad of charges. These charges included "making false statements to the FEC, witness tampering and tax evasion stemming from $6 million in political contributions and gifts mischaracterized as business expenses," according to The Washington Post. Charles Kushner had reportedly used the names of 15 people – including Jared Kushner's – to issue campaign donations, mostly to Democrats. He was also accused of using company funds to pay for someone's private school tuition and claimed it as a charitable deduction. Charles Kushner's imprisonment prompted Kushner to abandon his aspirations as a prosecutor and inherit his father's real estate business.
Kushner is still close with his father and believes that his father was wrongfully prosecuted.
4. Kushner is credited with helping Trump pull off his stunning election victory. A November Forbes profile on Kushner noted that he helped run the data operation of the campaign, focusing on spreading the campaign's message through Facebook and Twitter as well as developed researched policy positions for the campaign. Kushner was able to pull it off without having any prior experience in politics.
5. Kushner may have a vendetta against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Christie was the man who prosecuted Kushner's father; he was reportedly giddy about it because he was cracking down on a Democratic donor. Once Christie came into the Trump orbit after he endorsed the future president, it was Kushner who convinced Trump to select Mike Pence as his running mate over Christie, and it appears to have been Kushner who pushed Christie out of his role leading Trump's transition team.
6. Kushner's grandparents are Holocaust survivors. Kushner's grandparents came to America from Poland in 1949; they were part of the Bielski Brigade to resist the Nazis. Kushner told the story about his grandparents to fend off accusations about his father-in-law being an anti-Semite. Kushner's family was not pleased, as his cousin, Jacob Schulder, wrote on Facebook, "Thank you Jared for using something sacred and special to the descendants of Joe and Rae Kushner to validate the sloppy manner in which you've handled this campaign."
7. Kushner has not identified where he leans politically. "I haven't made a decision," Kushner told Forbes. "Things are still evolving as they go. There's some aspects of the Democrat Party that didn't speak to me, and there are some aspects of the Republican Party that didn't speak to me. People in the political world try to put you into different buckets based on what exists."
However, Kushner has expressed admiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and has a picture of John F. Kennedy close to his desk, suggesting that his personal views are likely toward the Left.
Kushner's disdain for speaking to the press is likely why he hasn't faced the same type of scrutiny as Bannon; however, he will be testifying before the Senate as part of the Russia investigation, and Democrats have raised a real estate deal Kushner is negotiating with a Chinese firm as a conflict-of-interest, so there will likely be more information to come out about Kushner in the future.