On Thursday, NBC News reported that the FBI has named President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a person of interest in the federal investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. At this point, this almost comes as no surprise. Many Trump aides are under investigation in the Russia probe, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman. Although Kushner has not been accused of any wrongdoing by the FBI, the fact that he is being investigated is troubling, given Kushner's enormous influence on President Trump.
According to The Washington Post, Kushner is under scrutiny from FBI officials for multiple meetings he had with Russian officials last year that he had previously failed to disclose. It's important to note that Kushner has not been charged with any crimes, and the investigation simply means that investigators are trying to determine the "extent and nature" of Kushner's discussions with the Russians. But Kushner is the first current White House official to be named in the probe, and given his close relationship with the president, it is concerning to know that his meetings with Russian officials are under scrutiny. Again, there is no reason yet to believe the FBI suspects Kushner of wrongdoing or illegal behavior.
Kushner's attorney Jamie Gorelick released a statement to CNN on Thursday:
Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.
Kushner has been described as "America's Deputy President," and has been placed in charge of many significant tasks by President Trump. For example, Trump has tasked Kushner with negotiating a peace deal in the Middle East, (telling him, "If you can't produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can"), leading the White House Office of American Innovation, and managing Trump's ongoing dispute with Mexican President Enrique Nieto over Trump's proposed border wall. In other words, he has a hand in many foreign policy decisions that could have a significant effect on U.S. security and foreign relations.
But even in addition to these monumental responsibilities, Kushner has allegedly influenced Trump's decisions on other significant issues, and he was even present in a makeshift war room with the president during his air strike on Syria. According to CNN, multiple White House officials have stated that Kushner has "completely eclipsed nearly all of Trump's West Wing and Cabinet advisers in terms of influence."
Kushner's growing influence in the Trump Administration means that he has the ability to impact the president, and the country, in a variety of significant ways. While he has not been accused of any wrongdoing, a federal investigation into his contact with Russian officials is not exactly a good sign for an administration that has so far been plagued with scandals. As the investigation continues to grow, it seems to be moving closer and closer to the president, and has now reached his right-hand man who is responsible in part for shaping U.S. foreign policy — a development that is troubling, to say the least.