Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner taking ‘heads down’ approach

Story highlights

  • Jared Kushner is facing increased scrutiny for his role in the campaign and transition
  • He and his wife, Ivanka Trump, are “focused on their work”

Washington (CNN)Two of President Donald Trump’s closest aides, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, are keeping their heads down.

It’s been just a few days since news surfaced that the FBI is looking into the role Kushner held during the campaign and transition, including his contacts with Russian officials, his role in the campaign’s data analytics operation, and his relationship with former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Kushner discussed creating a backchannel between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to discuss military operations in Syria and other matters in a meeting last December with Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak, sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
There is no indication Kushner is currently a target of the FBI’s probe and there are no allegations he committed any wrongdoing.
Now, the White House power couple — she a special assistant to the President, he a senior adviser and head of the newly-formed Office of American Innovation — is laying low.
They are both “focused on their work,” an administration official told CNN Monday.
The official said the two share a “healthy understanding that there’s attention on you when you’re at this level,” adding that they are “unfazed” by the scrutiny of the past week. They have built a thick skin over the past few months in the White House and they recognize that a certain level of attention comes with the high-profile opportunities they have been given, per the official. And they’re used to attention on a smaller scale — they were public figures in the New York real estate scene long before President Donald Trump began his campaign.
The couple spent the weekend at Trump’s Bedminister Golf Club, where they married in 2009, for a planned trip with their three small children.
Back in Washington on Sunday afternoon, Ivanka Trump was spotted outside the White House, chatting with lawyer Marc Kasowitz before boarding an SUV together. The New York-based Kasowitz has long been the President’s lawyer and is helping represent him on matters related to the inquiry into his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.
Ivanka Trump will not be involved in the White House’s internal, war room-like operation aimed at developing a rapid-response and communications strategy in an attempt to keep up with the special counsel’s Russia investigation, per the administration official.
The Trump-Kushner family relocated from New York City to Washington as the President took office in January. They settled their children into new schools and a new home in DC’s posh Kalorama neighborhood, just two miles from the White House, and around the corner from the Obamas. They’re staying put but have previously told friends they will continue to evaluate and reassess whether they plan to stay in Washington.
Ivanka Trump is “proud” of what her husband accomplished on the President’s first foreign trip, per the official. Kushner was instrumental in the planning of the nine-day, five country voyage. They returned to Washington a few days before it was over, departing from Rome. Per a White House official, the plan was always for them to depart after the first part of the trip, during which the President spoke to three of the world’s biggest religions in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.
Ivanka Trump posted a video of son Theodore, 1, upon her return Friday morning, writing, “It’s hard to be away… especially when this little dude is waiting for you at home! It’s good to be back!”
President Trump released a statement to The New York Times on Sunday, offering praise for his son-in-law.
“Jared is doing a great job for the country,” Trump said in the statement. “I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.”
Ivanka Trump, perhaps the President’s most trusted adviser, was not involved in the writing of that statement, the administration official said.
For now, Trump’s eldest daughter is moving full steam ahead in her West Wing role, where she serves as the President’s eyes and ears, providing input and insight on a wide range of issues.
She helped spearhead a federal paid family leave program that was included in the budget released last Tuesday while they were abroad. And she worked with Congress on anti-human trafficking initiatives. She held a roundtable discussion on the topic shortly before departing for the trip, met with human trafficking victims in Rome, and held another meeting on the topic at the White House on Friday. Last week, 13 bills were passed in the House to address the issue.
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