Members Only | March 1, 2019 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

Kushner Is Everything That’s Wrong with the Republic

Corruption is eating away our freedoms.

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The president overruled last year the CIA, his chief of staff and the White House counsel to give Jared Kushner top-secret clearance, according to the Times.

Mr. Trump’s decision in May so troubled senior administration officials that at least one, the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly, wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been “ordered” to give Mr. Kushner the top-secret clearance.

The White House counsel at the time, Donald F. McGahn II, also wrote an internal memo outlining the concerns that had been raised about Mr. Kushner — including by the C.I.A. — and how Mr. McGahn had recommended that he not be given a top-secret clearance.

The most immediate question is one of risk to security, and since I don’t know much about that, I’ll defer to those who do. Juliette Kayyem, a CNN analyst, said:

Put another way, there’s something about Jared Kushner that’s so wrong and dangerous that ordinary deference to the president of the United States was not enough for government officials to grant Kushner access to state secrets.

There was something so wrong and dangerous they could not go through with it until Donald Trump forced them to. Since Trump is lazy, I’m guessing he did not prod officials into granting access. I’m guessing Kushner prodded him to do that for him.

So again, Congressional Democrats have a bunch of new reasons to ask why government officials gravely feared giving Kushner access to state secrets, and why the president overruled career officials whose job is to defend and protect the United States. Where are the president’s loyalties? With the country or his family?

While I don’t have much to say about security, other than that we are entitled to it, I do have something to say about a larger theme: the president giving his daughter’s husband top clearance says everything about our moment, in which corruption, cronyism and anti-meritocratic forces are eating away our rights and freedoms.

Kushner, remember, had been telling his father-in-law that he was a “master negotiator,” and that any moment now Congressional Democrats would come around to supporting a border wall no one, not even the Republicans, wanted to pay for.

Kushner, remember, was surprised during the 35-day shutdown when only one Senate Democrat voted with the president while all other Democrats plus a few Republicans said no, we don’t want a wall, and by the way reopen the government. Right. Now.

Meanwhile, anyone paying the least bit of attention to Congress anticipated, with exquisite precision, that the Democrats were going to roll right over the president, and that they probably will again, now that they have forced the Senate to vote on a resolution opposing Trump’s emergency declaration. House Democrats are going to reveal just how much support the president has with members of his own party.

In any other time and place, someone like Jared Kushner would have been discredited, disabled and utterly humiliated. But we are here, in this time and place, and here it doesn’t matter that Kushner has no idea what he’s doing. It doesn’t matter that he fails spectacularly. It doesn’t matter that he’s an embarrassment to the White House and the country. Not only is he the president’s son-in-law. He’s very, very rich.

To the current Republican Party, and to other people, too, but especially the GOP, wealth is a stand-in for morality and quality of character. If you’re rich, you must be deserving, because if you were not deserving, you would not be rich.

If this seems like circular logic, that’s because it is, and that, too, doesn’t matter, because the only people Kushner is accountable to are other Republicans, and because they are Republicans, they will forgive him anything, because he is very, very rich.

It’s really no wonder the Republican Party has run out of ideas. Over and over, they told us tax cuts for the very, very rich would spur economic growth for everyone and spread prosperity to all. And yet, every time the Republican Party has had the chance to cut taxes—in the early 2000s and then again last year—what they said would happen didn’t happen. If you or I or anyone we know bet our professional reputations on saying something would happen that didn’t happen, our names would be mud.

Not so for the rich. Accountability is for the not-rich. And anyway, the rich got richer after the tax cuts, and since the rich can’t be wrong, because they are rich, the failure of tax cuts to spread prosperity isn’t their fault, because if it were, they wouldn’t be deserving, and that’s obviously not possible, because they are very, very rich.

This dynamic is often cast in economics, but not often enough in political terms. The rich, using the mechanisms of Wall Street and monopolistic corporations, are extracting wealth and resources out of the republic. This translates into ordinary Americans having fewer means of using their rights to honor their duties as citizens. Quite literally, the richer the very rich get, the less free everyone else gets.

So Kushner’s having access to things he should not have access to is not only a grave security threat. It is everything that’s wrong with our republic, and getting rid of him, and his father-in-law, is only a first step toward liberty and justice for all.

—John Stoehr


John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition open and available to all. Find him @johnastoehr.

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