A family feud, a real-estate empire, and a supermodel: Meet the family of ‘coronavirus czar’ Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor, Business Insider – Business Insider Singapore
Jared Kushner didn’t just marry into a scandal-ridden family – he was born into one of his own.
The 39-year-old senior White House advisor is the son of convicted felon Charles Kushner, who made a fortune developing New York real estate. Before he was responsible for the United States’ response to conflicts in the Middle East and managing the coronavirus pandemic, Jared Kushner followed his father into the family business.
A representative for Kushner Companies did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the family’s net worth, personal lives, or professional histories.
Keep reading to learn more about the Kushner family.
Before their rise to national prominence, the Kushners lived in Livingston, New Jersey, where they were heavily involved in the suburb’s Orthodox Jewish community.
Jared’s grandparents, who were Holocaust survivors, helped establish the community after immigrating to the United States in 1949, Town and Country Magazine reported. Kushner’s paternal grandmother Rae was part of a group of Belarusian Jews who escaped persecution by the Nazis, as chronicled in the 2008 film “Defiance” starring Daniel Craig.
While the family’s exact net worth is unknown, a 2017 New York Magazine article referred to them as “wealthy.”
The Kushners were well connected before Jared became a part of the first family.
Charles’ connections allowed Jared to meet world leaders including Hillary Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a young age, according to New York Magazine.
Charles Kushner was a major donor to the Democratic party before 2015, New York Magazine reported. He has since made donations to and hosted fundraisers for Donald Trump.
Jared’s parents, Charles and Seryl Kushner, inherited a real-estate business.
Charles Kushner founded the family’s real-estate developer, Kushner Companies, in 1985, according to Town and Country Magazine. Charles, 65, first got into real estate by managing 4,000 New Jersey apartments owned by his father, The Real Deal reported in 2007.
Seryl Kushner also works for the business.
Jared is the oldest of Charles and Seryl’s four children; his younger siblings are Joshua, Nicole, and Dara.
Kushner told The Real Deal in 2007 that the family splits their time between their apartment on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, their house in New Jersey, and vacation homes on the Jersey Shore and in Bal Harbour, Florida.
The Kushner family first rose to prominence in the 1990s as developers.
Kushner Companies operates more than 20,000 multifamily apartments and 13 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and Illinois, according to its website.
Charles, Jared, Seryl, and Nicole were once all actively involved in the company when Esquire profiled Jared Kushner in 2016.
In 2005, a conflict with his brother-in-law ended with Charles Kushner pleading guilty to charges of making illegal campaign donations, tax evasion, and witness intimidation.
Prosecutors investigated Charles Kushner for making illegal campaign donations in 2003, according to CNN.
After learning that his brother-in-law William Schulder had assisted prosecutors, Charles Kushner hired a prostitute to seduce Schulder in front of hidden cameras and delivered the tapes to Schulder’s wife in what CNN called an “elaborate revenge plot.” Charles went on to serve a 14 month-long prison sentence in Alabama, New York Magazine reported. In a 2007 interview with The Real Deal, Charles said his time in jail was the greatest obstacle he’d ever faced, but that it “gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about myself.”
The arrest caused the Kushner family’s status on the New York social scene to “evaporate,” New York Magazine reported in 2017.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in 2019 that Charles Kushner committed the “most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when I was US attorney,” CNN reported. Christie, who briefly served as the chair of President Trump’s transition team, also claimed that he was fired from his role in the Trump administration because of his part in Charles Kushner’s case, according to CNN.
Kushner stood by his father’s side throughout his prison term and has said that he believes his father is innocent.
Jared visited his father in prison once a week throughout his term and subsequent court-ordered stay in a halfway house, according to The Real Deal.
Jared also believes his father is innocent, he told New York Magazine in 2009. “His siblings stole every piece of paper from his office, and they took it to the government,” Kushner said. “Siblings that he literally made wealthy for doing nothing. He gave them interests in the business for nothing. All he did was put the tape together and send it. Was it the right thing to do? At the end of the day, it was a function of saying, ‘You’re trying to make my life miserable? Well, I’m doing the same.’”
Charles Kushner has taken responsibility for his actions, however, telling The Real Deal in 2007 that “I believe that God and my parents in heaven forgive me for what I did, which was wrong,” Kushner said. “I don’t believe God and my parents will ever forgive my brother and sister for instigating a criminal investigation and being cheerleaders for the government and putting their brother in jail because of jealousy, hatred, and spite.”
Jared, the eldest Kushner sibling, took over the family business before becoming a White House senior advisor.
After graduating from Harvard, Kushner purchased and ran the New York Observer, according to Town and Country Magazine.
Kushner also served as the CEO of his family’s real-estate firm before stepping down in 2017 to join the Trump administration, The Associated Press reported.
Kushner Companies has repeatedly faced regulatory scrutiny over the conditions of its buildings, where some tenants reportedly call Jared a “slumlord.”
In 2018, New York City regulators fined the Company $210,000 after an investigation found that it filed false documents with its construction permits, according to The Associated Press. Kushner Companies said at the time that it hired an outside firm to handle the paperwork and that they corrected the disparities in the documents when they found them.
In March 2019, a New York City councilman accused Kushner Companies of endangering hundreds of tenants by housing them in buildings with certificates of occupancy that expired months or years ago in New York City’s East Village, The Associated Press reported at the time. In a emailed statement to the AP, Kushner Companies said, “Similar to many other landlords, we inherited from prior owners certificates of occupancy with various issues,” the statement read. “Kushner will continue the long and detailed process to work with our consultants and the Department of Buildings to correct every issue outstanding.”
In October 2019, the state of Maryland filed a lawsuit against Kushner’s apartment management company, alleging that its units for low- and middle-income families in Baltimore are “are infested by rodents and vermin, plagued with water leaks that have caused mold and other issues, and, at times, lacking in basic utilities.” Without mentioning the units owned by Kushner specifically, Trump called Baltimore’s living conditions “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” on Twitter a few months earlier, in July 2019.
Opponents of the Trump family often say Kushner’s new job was the result of nepotism.
In his role at the White House, Kushner has focused on crafting a plan for peace in the Middle East despite lacking experience in foreign relations or Middle Eastern politics, Business Insider previously reported.
Kushner is also leading a task force on the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic, Business Insider reported. However, Kushner placed dead last in a survey ranking the trustworthiness of 10 American leaders’ responses to the pandemic, and his tenure as the “coronavirus czar” has been riddled with controversy.
Kushner’s coronavirus task force has been widely criticized for how it procured and distributed PPE to states.
Before Trump appointed Kushner to lead the unofficial coronavirus task force, Kushner advised the president that the virus was more dangerous to the economy than to public health, per The Guardian. In doing so, Kushner also helped rewrite Trump’s March 11 address to the nation regarding the pandemic. The speech, which contained at least six false claims, sunk the stock market and was widely characterized as a disaster, Business Insider previously reported.
Kushner was also widely criticized after accusing governors who had requested additional ventilators of poorly managing their state stockpiles during a press briefing.
When Kushner did secure PPE for FEMA to distribute to the states, he used a spreadsheet called “VIP Update” to procure the needed medical equipment from inexperienced Trump allies – including conservative activist Charlie Kirk and a former “Apprentice” contestant – rather than legitimate PPE suppliers, The New York Times reported.
Kushner joined the Trump family in October 2009, after marrying Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka.
The couple has three kids together: Arabella, Theodore, and Joseph.
The pair have a collective net worth of $1.1 billion, Business Insider reported. They earned $83 million from their investments and various professional endeavors in 2018, including Ivanka’s stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and Jared’s stake in Cadre, the real-estate investment platform he cofounded with his brother Joshua and Cadre CEO Ryan Williams.
Despite having worked in a Republican administration since 2016, the couple didn’t register as Republican voters until March 2020.
Jared and Ivanka enjoy a lavish lifestyle.
The Kushners rent a $15,000 per month, 7,000-square-foot house in Washington, DC’s ritzy Kalorama neighborhood, Business Insider reported. The couple also own a four-bedroom penthouse in the Trump Park Avenue building and a a $25 million art collection. Ivanka is also often spotted in high-end dresses and jewelry.
They also regularly socialize with wealthy friends, including WeWork founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann, Business Insider’s Meghan Morris and Julie Bort reported in September. The Kushners were even invited to Rebekah’s extravagant 40th birthday bash in Italy, but declined to attend.
Jared, Ivanka, and their kids also vacation frequently — even when that travel is controversial.
Ivanka has shared photos and videos of the family traveling on Air Force One to Mar a Lago for the Super Bowl and to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey; celebrating Passover by skiing at the Four Seasons Whistler in Canada; and celebrating Hanukkah in Hawaii. In April, the family traveled to Bedminster to celebrate Passover, despite the administration advising Americans to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus at that time.
The couple has been criticized for their frequent travel, and the security bills it racks up for taxpayers. Their 2018 weekend in the Dominican Republic, for example, cost taxpayers $58,000.
Another of Ivanka’s vacation photos, this time of her and daughter Arabella snowmobiling in Wyoming, was widely criticized as “tone-deaf” in April 2019 after being posted during a public outcry over a Trump administration policy that separated thousands of children from their families at the US-Mexico border, per Yahoo News.
Jared’s younger brother, 34-year-old Joshua Kushner, opted for a career in venture capital instead of going into the family business.
Joshua Kushner hasn’t attended the Kushner Companies’ weekly meetings frequented by other family members in years, Esquire reported in 2016.
The younger Kushner brother’s firm, Thrive Capital, has invested in various tech start-ups including Instagram, Stripe, ClassPass, Instacart, Robinhood, and Lemonade, Business Insider reported.
Joshua wed supermodel Karlie Kloss, 27, in October 2018.
The couple was first spotted together in 2012 and have kept their relationship fairly private since, Business Insider reported. They announced their engagement in July 2018 and married in October 2018. The two held a star-studded second wedding celebration in Wyoming in eight months later, attended by Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Princess Beatrice, Ellie Goulding, and Ashton Kutcher. Kloss converted to Judaism ahead of their marriage.
Kloss has spoken out about the effect her connection to the Kushner family has had on her career, saying “It’s frustrating, to be honest, that the spotlight is always shifted away from my career toward my relationship,” Kloss told Vogue in 2018. “I don’t think the same happens in conversations with men.”
The couple is close with the rest of the Kushner family, despite holding radically different political views.
After the Kloss and Kushner wedding, Ivanka Trump retweeted a photo Kloss posted from the wedding, adding “So much love for you both as you begin forever together.” Josh Kushner told Forbes in April 2017 that he and his brother spoke every day.
Jared Kushner even consulted Kloss’s father, Dr. Kurt Kloss, on the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Post reported. The elder Kloss asked for advice on how to respond in a Facebook group for emergency room physicians.
Despite their close relationship with Ivanka and Jared, Kloss and the younger Kushner do not share Trump’s politics. Kloss shared a photo of herself filling out an absentee ballot ahead of the 2016 Presidential Election on Instagram, including the hashtag #ImWithHer in support of Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Joshua Kushner told Forbes in 2017 that “It is no secret that liberal values have guided my life and that I have supported political leaders that share similar values.”
Their father, Charles Kushner, has also donated to the Democratic Party, including to former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, New York Magazine reported in 2017.
Nicole Kushner Meyer is an executive at Kushner Companies and reportedly used her White House connection to lure Chinese investors.
Kushner Companies advertised Kushner Meyer as Jared Kushner’s sister in promotional materials during a 2017 trip to meet with potential investors in China, the Washington Post reported. The company also advertised that individuals who invested $500,000 could get “investor visas” at the same event, according to The Post.
Kushner Meyer’s husband, Joseph Meyer, is the CEO of Jared Kushner’s newspaper company Observer Media, Town and Country Magazine reported.
Dara Kushner is the most private Kushner sibling.
Dara Kushner “lives quietly in Livingston,” where the whole Kushner family lived before their rise to prominence, New York Magazine reported in 2017. She isn’t publicly involved in the family business, according to Town and Country Magazine.
Jared, too, was a relatively private figure for an official of his status, before his role in the administration’s coronavirus response cast him into the spotlight.
Kushner has “mostly shied from the public stage” during his time at the White House, The Guardian’s Tom McCarthy wrote.
The pandemic has changed that, even leading Kushner to speak at the White House Press Briefing for the first time, signaling that an even more public role could be in his future.
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