- Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly locked horns with White House senior adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
- Kushner reportedly pursued a freewheeling diplomatic outreach to other world leaders, sometimes pursuing private conversations that sidestepped normal channels of communication.
- His methods apparently did not sit well with Tillerson and others.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster were reportedly at odds with White House senior adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to a Washington Post report on Monday.
Trump fired Tillerson last week.
Early on in the Trump presidency, Kushner had developed diplomatic relations with leaders of other nations – without conferring with national security or diplomatic officials, according to sources cited in the The Post’s report.
Kushner had developed a particularly close bond with Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman after Kushner entered the Trump administration. Kushner had several face-to-face meetings and private phone conversations with Prince Salman, people familiar with the talks told The Post.
While Kushner’s supporters have hailed his efforts as a path in brokering peace in the Middle East, others were less impressed, citing Kushner’s interim top-secret security clearance – which has since been downgraded – and Kushner’s repeated failures to coordinate with national security or diplomatic officials, The Post reported.
Perhaps owing to his efforts to engage Saudi officials, Kushner successfully lobbied Trump to choose Saudi Arabia as the location of his first international visit as president, even after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Tillerson protested the suggestion.
At one point, Tillerson told his staff, “Who is Secretary of State here?”
In a statement to The Post, McMaster touted what he called his “close working relationship” with Kushner, and said they made a “carefully coordinated outreach to foreign leaders.”
“Jared’s relationships have proven invaluable to advancing the President’s agenda in many of the world’s vital regions,” McMaster said.
“It appears those who feel left out are the ones who become sources for false information,” a spokesman for Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s attorney, said to The Post, suggesting that former Trump associates may be planting negative stories about the president’s son-in-law.
“Mr. Kushner follows all appropriate internal communications protocols and procedures, and the actions he takes are known by, coordinated with and reported to others who should be involved.”