Of all the senior officials working in President Donald Trump's White House, his eldest daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner may be in the running for the most controversial. And from the sounds of things, the White House chief of staff is thinking about what life would be like without them in the halls of power ― John Kelly reportedly discussed Ivanka and Jared Kushner leaving the White House by the end of this year, although he denies the story.
The detail about Kelly's desire for a Jared and Ivanka-free administration was part of a report from The New York Times on Saturday, detailing Kushner's rapidly diminishing influence, and narrowing portfolio of responsibilities, in his father-in-law's administration. Kelly denies he's ever thought about pushing the pair out of the White House, telling the Times that there was "never a time" he'd considered it.
Once powerful and bulletproof enough to ignore questions from former chief of staff Reince Priebus simply by cursing at him, according to an account described in the Times story, Kushner has reportedly lost some of the president's favor in recent weeks. In fact, recent reports suggest that Trump himself has been trying to convince his daughter and son-in-law to leave the Washington life behind, and return to their native New York City, a notion that would've been almost unthinkable this time one year ago.
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, the pair were widely reported as Trump's most inseparable and essential confidants and advisers. However, in the months since the inauguration, a series of stories and reports have suggested an increasingly complicated relationship.
Ivanka, for one, has downplayed the extent to which she has influence with her father on matters of policy, calling it "unrealistic" to think she can change his mind. Her father was also reportedly perturbed by her speaking out against Republican Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, saying that there was a "special place in Hell" for people who abuse children.
Moore has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old, among several other allegations; he has vehemently denied all the claims, characterizing them as false and politically motivated. The president offered an effective endorsement of Moore's ongoing candidacy earlier this week, despite the fact that major GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell have called on him to resign.
Kushner, on the other hand, has reportedly been involved in advocating for some decisions that have turned out poorly for the Trump administration. Perhaps most notably, Kushner was reportedly a proponent of the firing of former FBI director James Comey, an action which could be significant in the ongoing investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller.
He also failed to properly and fully fill out his SF-86 form when he first applied for a security clearance. In July, he amended it to include a far greater number foreign contacts ― more than 100 in all, in fact. Even though he's corrected the form after the fact, that initial failure to disclose could expose him to legal vulnerability, in addition to anything else Mueller's investigation uncovers. Kushner has denied that he colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In short, there are all sorts of reasons a chief of staff concerned with protecting and strengthening the position of their president might want the pair gone, although again, Kelly has denied considering any such thing. It remains to be seen whether the duo depart from public life at some point in their father's first term as president, but given that these sorts of reports are already swirling less than one year in, it seems like a non-negligible possibility.