He’s also played a key role in shaping Trump’s foreign policy, starting during the campaign when he began making connections with figures in other countries to lay the groundwork for a potential presidency. Kushner became an important point of contact for foreign governments during the transition, including China. When Trump, as president-elect, took a phone call in December from the president of Taiwan—suggesting the incoming commander in chief might abandon the longstanding, Beijing-preferred “One China” policy—Kushner successfully pushed for Trump to reaffirm the policy in a phone call with Chinese president Xi Jinping. Many in the administration give Kushner credit for orchestrating Xi’s April visit with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.
Kushner has shown interest in other elements of foreign and national security policy. In April, he traveled to Iraq after General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, invited him over a working dinner at the White House. Kushner had made an impression on Dunford at an earlier meeting of the National Security Council’s principals committee in the White House Situation Room, when he offered the general his seat at the table. “I’m here to listen,” Kushner told Dunford as he sat back along the wall.
The president’s national security adviser, General H. R. McMaster, has nothing but positive things to say about Kushner. “He challenges conventional wisdoms, and he tends to see opportunities where others only see difficulties,” McMaster tells me.
Kushner has had a more mixed record in directing domestic policy.