From NBC NEWS:
The speculation began almost immediately after Donald Trump was elected: Who would have the ear of the famously unpredictable 45th president?
For a time it appeared that White House adviser Steve Bannon, memorably depicted as the Grim Reaper on “Saturday Night Live,” was the power behind the throne. Another trusted aide, Kellyanne Conway, was also said to be an influential member of Trump’s inner circle. And then there were Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller — all skilled and ambitious political animals vying for the boss’ attention.
But two months into Trump’s presidency, it’s becoming clear that blood and family have trumped ambition on Pennsylvania Avenue with First Daughter Ivanka Trump emerging as a powerbroker in her own right, along with her husband Jared Kushner.
[T]he profile of Trump’s son-in-law is also on the rise. On Monday, it was announced that Kushner was tapped to oversee a new office called the White House Office of American Administration, whose mission is to make the federal government run more like a business.
“We should have excellence in government,” Kushner told The Washington Post, which broke the story on Sunday. “The government should be run like a great American company.”
Not lost on White House watchers was this — Bannon has no formal role in the new, high-profile entity. Neither does Pence, or Priebus, or Miller.
Kushner has agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and could face some tough questions from the panel looking into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian spies. Among other things, Kushner will be asked about his meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., at Trump Tower.
Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Trump, will be questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference during the 2016 election.
“Mr. Kushner has volunteered to be interviewed as part of the committee’s investigation into the Russian activities surrounding the 2016 election,” senators Richard Burr (R, N.C.) and Mark Warner (D, Va.), the committee’s chairman and vice chairman, told the New York Times in a statement.
According to the Times, the questions for Kushner will focus on two meetings he had with Russian agents in December, prior to his father-in-law’s inauguration as president.
The first took place with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak alongside ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn at Trump Tower.
The second was a previously undisclosed meeting between Kushner and Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russia’s state-owned Vnesheconombank, which has been under sanctions since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Between 2012 and 2014, Vnesheconombank was used as cover for Russian spy Evgeny Buryakov to gather intelligence and recruit New York City residents as sources for Moscow, according to the Department of Justice. Buryakov was prosecuted by then-United States Attorney Preet Bharara, who was recently fired by the Trump Administration.
The disclosure of the Vnesheconombank meeting and Kushner’s expected testimony comes on the day the president plans to unveil a new White House office, to be led by Kushner, that will be charged with overhauling the federal bureaucracy.
So far, seven associates of the president have been asked to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In addition to Kushner and Flynn, the list includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, campaign adviser Roger Stone, campaign manager Paul Manafort, policy advisor Carter Page, and J.D. Gordon, who was the Trump campaign’s director of national security.
So far, Kushner is the closest advisor to Trump to be caught up in ongoing invesigations over Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election.