Last week, President-elect Donald Trump named his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to his transition team’s executive committee. While Trump’s team has since attempted to shoot down reports that the president-elect is seeking a security clearance for Kushner, he is apparently under consideration for a key administration position, despite some legal hurdles.
Kushner, 35, is in many ways similar to his father-in-law. Both followed their successful fathers into the real estate business. Both have a history of political donations to liberal Democrats. And neither has any government experience.
Unlike Trump, Kushner has not cultivated a very public profile. His Twitter feed has more than 11,000 followers and was started in 2009, but no tweets. Not much is known about his political views, though Politico described him Friday as “a supporter of gay rights” and “a moderate voice in Trump’s circle.” The grandson of Holocaust survivors, he is an observant Jew, and Ivanka converted to Judaism prior to their marriage in 2009.
Kushner’s father is a major real estate figure who pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, illegal campaign donations, and witness tampering in 2005 (in a plea deal reached with then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie). He was a major Democratic donor for decades. In 1992, at the age of 11, Jared joined the rest of his family in making legal-maximum donations to Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and unsuccessful Senate candidate Robert Abrams (D-NY). The two $1,000 donations made to Lautenberg listed the child’s occupation as a “student.” Former Sen. Bob Torricelli (D-NJ), to whom Jared gave $2,000 in 1999, told the New Yorker that Charles would sometimes bring his young son to his meetings with politicians so he could listen.
After graduating from Harvard, Jared Kushner stepped in to lead his father’s business while his father served his prison time. In 2006, he purchased the New York Observer, a weekly newspaper, for about $10 million. The publication endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, but switched to back Mitt Romney in 2012 and endorsed his father-in-law in the 2016 primaries.
Over the past two years, Kushner has reportedly served as Trump’s “de facto campaign manager.” When the campaign drew criticism for an anti-Semitic tweet, the typically quiet Kushner published an op-ed in his newspaper defending the “Donald Trump I Know.”
“If my father in law’s fast-moving team was careless in choosing an image to retweet, well part of the reason it’s so shocking is that it’s the actual candidate communicating with the American public rather than the armies of handlers who poll-test ordinary candidates’ every move,” he wrote. “America faces serious challenges. A broken economy, terrorism, gaping trade deficits and an overall lack of confidence. Intolerance should be added to that list. I’m confident that my father in law, with his outstanding record of real results, will be successful tackling these challenges. That’s why I support him.”
Kushner was reportedly involved in pre-election talks to create a Trump TV network, if that candidate were lose to Hillary Clinton. He has also been credited for ousting Trump’s initial transition head: the same Chris Christie who was the prosecutor who his father behind bars.
There may be legal limitations to what role Kushner can play in Trump’s administration. A 1967 law, passed after President John F. Kennedy had made his brother Robert the U.S. attorney general, prohibits presidents from appointing relatives (including sons-in-law) to any federal agency positions and bars relatives from receiving a salary. While there is some question about whether these anti-nepotism rules are constitutional, there is precedent for presidential relatives serving in unpaid White House roles.
According to a Fortune profile, Kushner has officiated weddings, collects chess sets, and can make balloon animals. America may soon learn whether he can also help run the country.