- Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is leading a “shadow” coronavirus response team in the White House, The Washington Post reports.
- Kushner’s team is leading efforts to improve US healthcare delivery, such as creating new drive-thru testing units, according to The Post.
- But some officials told The Post it’s not clear who’s in charge and Kushner’s elevation had created confusion.
- Kushner is said to have been behind some of Trump’s key missteps in his coronavirus response, reportedly telling the president the crisis was being exaggerated by the media and making last-minute changes to a speech that had to be clarified after the fact.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, is leading a “shadow” coronavirus task force and causing confusion in the White House, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Kushner – who has staffed the team with political allies and private-sector representatives – is charged with improving the country’s delivery of healthcare, including creating new drive-thru testing units, according to the report.
Kushner was reportedly assigned to the efforts last week at the request of Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the official White House coronavirus task force. A spokeswoman for Pence told The Post that Pence and Kushner were “closely collaborating” and talking to each other “10 times a day.”
But the setup is apparently causing confusion about who’s in charge, with two unnamed senior officials telling The Post they were confused about the private-sector employees’ role in the government response and were concerned about whether they were following government security protocols.
“We don’t know who these people are. Who is this? We’re all getting these emails,” one unnamed official told the newspaper, referring to the nongovernmental employees emailing from private email addresses.
Kushner’s status as a senior member of Trump’s family also made it unclear whether communications from his team should be treated as orders, or requests, officials told the publication.
The Post’s report follows several others indicating Kushner was taking on an increasingly key role in the administration’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus crisis and had been involved in some major recent missteps by Trump.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Kushner had told Trump in the early days of the outbreak that the crisis was being exaggerated by the media – claims later echoed by the president in public.
He had also reportedly played a role in Trump’s decision to abruptly announce a European travel ban in a televised Oval Office speech last week, a move that blindsided European nations and forced the White House to roll back several of the president’s claims.
Kushner also encouraged Trump to announce last Friday that Google had developed a national coronavirus testing website – which, in reality, had been in only an initial developmental phase at the time.
And last week it was revealed that Kurt Kloss, a doctor whose daughter is married to Kushner’s brother, was crowd-sourcing coronavirus response suggestions from fellow doctors on Facebook at Kushner’s request.
Critics have said Kushner lacks the expertise and experience to play a leading role tackling the most serious public health crisis in the US in decades.
But in an interview with The Post, Kushner said he aimed to bring private-sector insights into efforts to fight the virus.
“We’re getting things done in record speeds and are doing everything possible to avoid damage and mitigate the negative impacts,” he said. “In America, some of our best resources are in our private sector.”
He also said he aimed to “establish a faster decision cadence, so we can empower them [government officials] to isolate the problems, agree on the proposed solutions and then empower the proper government department to move quickly.”