This could be the most consequential week of Jared Kushner’s young life.
The 36-year-old has gone from being known mostly in New York real-estate circles, and there mostly as the scion of a powerful family with only a mediocre track record of his own, to wunderkind senior adviser—and, oh yeah, son-in-law—to President Trump. Now Trump is headed abroad on his first foreign trip, which has largely been Kushner’s project. Meanwhile, an increasingly hot investigation into the Trump White House’s ties to Russia threatens to ensnare Trump.
Even though Kushner has no background in politics or foreign policy, the president has given him vast leeway over global issues—one of the many portfolios Kushner has taken on. The trip that Trump is planning is an ambitious one. The president is headed first to Saudi Arabia, where he intends to give a speech on Islam. Then he’ll go to Israel, followed by the Vatican City, before attending summits of the G7 and NATO.
If Trump can pull off a successful trip, it would be a major accomplishment for Kushner. But few things go off without a hitch for this administration. The New York Times reported Trump viewed the journey with dread and wanted to shorten it, and each stop is charged with danger. The Islam speech is a risky move for a president who has long denigrated the faith. In Israel, he already faces controversies over the location of the American embassy, control of the Western Wall, and now reports that Trump blurted out highly sensitive Israeli intelligence during a White House meeting with top Russian officials. Trump has already had to cancel one planned event, a speech at Masada, after Israeli officials refused to let him land his helicopter there, for fear of damaging the hilltop fortress. In Europe, Trump has traded barbs with the pope, and he has managed to chill relations with some of America’s closest allies.