'De facto president': Why one former White House official says Jared Kushner holds the reins
Jared Kushner and Donald Trump (Photo: White House)

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has had two different task forces in response to the crisis: an official task force led by Vice President Mike Pence and includes medical experts Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx and a secondary task force that is led by White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner. Kushner, however, was a key figure in the Trump White House long before the pandemic, and in an article for GQ, journalist Luke Darby notes that a former White House official has described Kushner as the "de facto president of the United States.'

Trump has had an insanely high turnover in his administration, but Kushner (who is the president's son-in-law and is married to his daughter, Ivanka Trump — also a White House senior adviser) is among the loyalists who has stuck with the president. And Darby's article focuses on how influential Kushner has been in the Trump Administration.

Darby notes that Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman quoted a former White House official as saying, "Jared is running everything. He's the de facto president of the United States." And the GQ journalist points out that when Time interviewed Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, for a profile of Kushner published on January 16, Parscale asserted, "Nobody has more influence in the White House than Jared. Nobody has more influence outside the White House than Jared. He's No. 2 after Trump."

It was Kushner, in fact, who appointed Parscale to manage Trump's reelection campaign. And according to a Republican insider Sherman quoted in his article, Kushner treated former Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney "like the help."

Darby stresses that Kushner has encouraged some of Trump's worst behavior.

"Current and former White House officials described to Vanity Fair a Kushner who is as vindictive and myopic as Trump himself," Darby explains. "After the Senate acquitted Trump of impeachment charges without calling a single witness, Kushner reportedly pushed for a sweeping purge of officials who weren't deemed loyal enough during the hearings."

Moreover, Darby adds, "Like Trump — when it comes to fighting the coronavirus outbreak — Kushner appears more concerned with the stock market than with public health. One Republican briefed on the administration's coronavirus response told Vanity Fair that as early as mid-January, advisers were sounding alarms, but 'Jared kept saying the stock market would go down, and Trump wouldn't get reelected.'"

Darby observes that according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the U.S. has "nearly 60,000 deaths" from coronavirus — a figure that increased to more than 61,000 after GQ published Darby's article."