WASHINGTON -- Thirty-six-year-old Jared Kushner has no diplomatic experience, but he’s become an envoy to foreign leaders, at times in place of the secretary of state.
Before taking office, President Trump tasked his son-in-law with brokering peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,” Mr. Trump said to Kushner.
Kushner also played a key role in February’s visit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Can I reveal, Jared, how long we’ve known you?” Netanyahu said during a press conference.
Finessing the strained relationships with Mexico and working with the Canadian government are also Kushner projects, and he’s now running a newly created office to integrate business ideas into the government.
When CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan pressed White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Kushner’s role, he said the State Department is not being sidelined.
“He brings a perspective to this and began doing that during the transition, but again, it’s not a binary choice where it’s-- he’s doing this at the expense of somebody else,” Spicer said.
“But he has a direct line to the president, whereas the other institutions are not,” Brennan said.
“OK, great. That’s even better then. I think that’s a win for our government,” Spicer replied.
Perhaps Kushner’s biggest test will come later this week: He has led preparations for a high-stakes visit from the Chinese president.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a family member with so much power and influence in the White House in a very long time,” said Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state and NATO ambassador. He supported Hillary Clinton during the presidential election.
“You do see this in foreign countries, you see it in monarchies, you see it in authoritarian countries where the brother or the son or the uncle of the leader has influence because of the relationship,” Burns said.