The last person President Donald Trump joked was becoming more famous than him was James Comey. Months later, he abruptly fired the FBI director, saying simply that he wasn’t doing a good job. So when Trump threw out the same joke Tuesday about his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the Twitter universe questioned whether it was an omen. Trump hosted the Senate and House Republican leadership at the White House to discuss a range of issues, from tax reform to health care. While thanking participants for their efforts to advance Trump’s political agenda, he stopped at Kushner, who this week, is featured on the cover of Time. ”Jared has actually become more famous than me,” Trump said, prompting laughter from the group and a grin from Kushner. ”I’m a little bit upset about that.”
Kushner took on a powerful and influential role on his father-in-law’s campaign since the start. He and his wife, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, have been at the center of a small group of trusted advisers helping Trump navigate his turbulent first few months in office. Trump tapped Kushner to head the new Office of American Innovation, a consultancy comprised of a team of business executives tasked with working with various sectors to implement the president’s agenda. Trump also said that Kushner would spearhead efforts to negotiate a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, and he’s taken on a number of other foreign policy portfolios, including the job of mending the now-rocky ties with Mexico. But Kushner is famous for other reasons as well.
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The 36-year-old former real estate executive is at the center of the latest revelations to emerge regarding contacts Trump associates had with Russian officials. Shortly after the election, Kushner is reported to have discussed setting up a secret communications channel with the Russian government to facilitate sensitive discussions about the conflict in Syria.
The intent was to connect Trump’s chief national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, with Russian military leaders, a person familiar with the discussions told the AP. The person wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and insisted on anonymity.
Flynn handed in his resignation in February, ousted on grounds that he had misled top White House officials about his contacts with Russian officials.
Comey was fired last month amid an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, as well as a broader probe into Russian interferences in the 2016 presidential election, prompting speculation by some that Trump sought to undermine the investigation.
And Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday. At the same event Tuesday, Trump sent a simple message to Comey ahead of his testimony: ”I wish him luck.”
Days after taking office, Trump singled Comey out during a White House event. The president shook his hand, gave him a hug, and then joked, ”He’s become more famous than me.”