Trump Puts Jared Kushner In Charge Of His Border Wall

President Trump has put his son-in-law in charge of building the border wall.

In addition to all his other duties, which apparently includes being a Senior Presidential Adviser, a backchannel to the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, and the chief envoy for the Administration’s seemingly moribund Middle East peace plan, Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner apparent has a new job. He’s been put in charge of overseeing construction of the President’s beloved border wall:

President Trump has made his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the de facto project manager for constructing his border wall, frustrated with a lack of progress over one of his top priorities as he heads into a tough reelection campaign, according to current and former administration officials.

Kushner convenes biweekly meetings in the West Wing, where he questions an array of government officials about progress on the wall, including updates on contractor data, precisely where it will be built and how funding is being spent. He also shares and explains the president’s wishes with the group, according to the officials familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser is pressing U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the process of taking over private land needed for the project as the government seeks to meet Trump’s goal of erecting 450 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of 2020. More than 800 filings to seize private property will need to be made in the coming months if the government is going to succeed, officials aid.

Kushner has told other West Wing officials that he is in charge of the wall, according to aides, and that it is paramount to Trump that at least 400 miles be built by Election Day.

“The point is to get as much built in the next year or so, so the president can say in the face of intense, almost demented opposition he has made reasonable progress,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that seeks to restrict immigration and supports many of Trump’s policies.

(…)

Kushner has clashed with the career officials who have questioned some of his ideas, such as installing web cameras to live-stream construction. He has blamed former chief of staff John F. Kelly and former homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for not focusing enough on the wall, senior administration officials said. For their part, former officials have said Kushner displays a lack of knowledge of the policy issues and politics involved in the immigration debate.

The wall adds to Kushner’s growing portfolio of responsibilities, which some of his critics have said border on comical. Since the start of the Trump presidency, Kushner has been entrusted with striking a Middle East peace deal, taking a lead role on trade policy, overseeing criminal justice reform and modernizing the government, with mixed results.

Kushner is also seeking to again push an overhaul of the legal immigration system after his first attempt failed to gain much support in Congress, and he has taken on a leadership role in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Some of Kushner’s critics say he can be tone-deaf when it comes to politics and does not understand or respect the value of having multiple agencies work through an official process on a project. And they snidely joke that it is ironic that an aide Trump occasionally mocks as a Democrat is in charge of the project, which has attracted significant criticism. But he remains the most influential adviser in the West Wing and enjoys a level of trust from the president that makes him unique within the administration, according to current and former administration officials.

“My hope is Jared can put a more laser focus on the project and the process. Maybe he can light a fire under the responsible agencies, but if recent history is any indication, he will get frustrated before he gets results,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican who has frequently talked with Trump about the project.

(…)

Army Corps leaders have expressed concerns about Kushner’s aggressive view of the government’s eminent domain authorities, which allow it to take over private land for public use, telling him they are committed to following established legal procedures.

During a recent meeting with officials at the border, Army Corps Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite told them to follow the law and not worry about politics, a person with knowledge of the meeting said.

One person involved in the construction of the wall, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, said Kushner has annoyed officials involved in the process because they said he displayed a lack of knowledge about the government procurement process and the “realities” of the project.

“So he took a much more hands-on role in figuring out, mile by mile, how to get more wall up,” this person said. “It didn’t help put wall up faster and cheaper. His interventions actually just created more inefficiency in the process.”

The Trump administration has completed 83 miles of new barriers so far, according to the latest CBP figures, but nearly all of that is classified as “replacement wall,” typically swapping out older, smaller structures for a row of steel bars 18 to 30 feet in height.

Kushner insists the administration remains on target to meet the president’s goal of 450 miles by the end of next year, a pace that will require construction to accelerate at least fourfold, according to government data reviewed by The Washington Post. The president’s son-in-law has set a goal of 30 to 35 miles of new barriers per month by spring, requiring crews to average a new linear mile of fencing every day.

Leaving aside the controversy surrounding the wall for a moment, this is yet another example of the nepotism that has taken place in this Administration. Notwithstanding the fact that they have absolutely no experience in government prior to entering the White House both Kushner and his wife First Daughter Ivanka Trump have been given responsibility for a wide variety of policy areas in which they seemingly have no relevant experience. In Kushner’s case, this includes not only the controversial issue of immigration but also responsibility over far more complex issues that have plagued American Presidents for decades now. Any previous President would have been rightfully condemned for rewarding their family in this manner. For Trump, it’s just another day at the office.

As for the border wall, which has been the crown jewel of the political movement that the President has led since the day he entered the race in June 2015, it’s difficult to see how Kushner is going to be able to succeed where all those before him have failed.

As noted above, so far there have only been about 80 miles of border wall constructed. The vast majority of the work that has taken place, though, consists of the replacement of existing border barriers, some of which were in disrepair and scheduled to be replaced any way, and in any case, the entirety of what has been done falls far short of the 450 miles that the President wants to see by the time voters head to the polls next November. Indeed, if we kept up the current pace of construction it would be several years before we got anywhere close to the President’s 2020 goal, something that his Democratic opponent is likely to point out when we get to the General Election next year.

Additionally, most of the progress that has been made with respect to either new construction or replacement has taken place on land owned by the Federal Government. Going forward the project will have to shift to land owned by American citizens. In many cases, this is family-owned land that they have owned longer than Texas has been a state and in many cases dating back to when it was still part of Mexico. Proceeding with construction on this land that will require eminent domain proceedings in order to go forward. Even if these procedures are expediated, they are going to slow down the construction process significantly, especially if some or all of the landowners choose to fight the matter in court and take advantage of the appeals process. Taking that into account, the odds that Kushner or anyone else will be able to achieve the President’s 450-mile goal in less than 365 days is somewhere between slim and none.

None of this is to say that Kushner is being set up as a fall guy, of course. His position is secure as long as he remains married to Ivanka. Instead, one suspects that when failing to reach the 450-mile goal comes, as it inevitably will, the President will use this as he has always used his own Administration’s failures, as a cudgel to attack his opponents. In this case, he’ll use it to attack the Democrats and claim that the wall would have been completed if the Republicans controlled Congress. The truth, of course, is that the two budgets that were passed when the GOP did control all of Congress contained absolutely no funding for the wall in no small part because even the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill didn’t support the wall enough to be willing to push for it at budget time. Despite this, Trump will blame the Democrats, and his supporters will eat it up.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    So it’s not happening then?

    ReplyReply
  2. DrDaveT says:

    Not Hunter Biden? That might actually have been shrewd…

    ReplyReply
  3. de stijl says:

    Can we get MBS to pay for it?

    Call it the Khashoggi Wall?

    ReplyReply
  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Again…there are actually people who support this shit-show. Enthusiastically.

    OT…seriously…there is no point in talking about Trump today if we are not talking about THIS!!!

    ReplyReply
  5. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Jon McNaughton, Ben Garrison, and now this…artist.

    on Monday the Doordash delivery driver had a truck with a front license plate that had a bald eagle superimposed on a Confederate flag. Same level of quality.

    ReplyReply
  6. CSK says:

    OT, but Trump has Tweeted an image of his head superimposed on Rocky Balboa’s body. Ghastly.

    ReplyReply
  7. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: You beat me to it.

    ReplyReply
  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Teve:

    a bald eagle superimposed on a Confederate flag

    Hilarious

    ReplyReply
  9. Senyordave says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: OT…seriously…there is no point in talking about Trump today if we are not talking about THIS!!!

    The fact that he tweeted this out should be included in list of impeachable offenses.

    ReplyReply
  10. Gustopher says:

    So, Trump has given up on the wall, and handed it off to Pretty Fredo so it can fail without staining him? Cool, cool.

    Seriously though, where is the Wall on Kushner’s list of priorities? Middle East Peace, Opioid Epidemic, Wall?

    ReplyReply
  11. Kathy says:

    I can’t think of a worse person for the job.

    I heartily approve!

    ReplyReply
  12. Teve says:

    @Senyordave: it would be a good idea to use quotation marks or block quoting or some way to delineate your words from words you’re quoting.

    ReplyReply
  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    there is no point in talking about Trump today if we are not talking about THIS!!!

    Of course…here is REALITY!!!

    ReplyReply
  14. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Pretty sure staying out of prison is job 1.

    Dude will spend more on lawyers this year than I earned in a lifetime.

    ReplyReply
  15. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    State issued plate?

    (Some states only require a plate on the back, so you can go nuts on the front. Most people don’t because they are sane and or busy.)

    ReplyReply
  16. de stijl says:

    I know of and have seen McNaughton’s art. I love Joe Everywhitedude sitting with Trump on the park bench. His “Socialism” textbook at his feet. How did I miss that textbook? I took econ. We were not instructed to buy a book titled “Socialism”.

    Allegories have to be semi-plausible. Seriously, have Hillary in the background smacking a Constitution atop a Bible with an adult toy to be slightly more obvious.

    I now have to look up Garrison. I expect many lols.

    ReplyReply
  17. de stijl says:

    To anyone who has not seen Jon McNaughton’s art, you have to give it a go. Idolatry. Trump idolatry. Truly astonishing.

    ReplyReply
  18. mattbernius says:

    Other question, other than the First Step Act (where he definitely played a – if not the – critical role in it’s passage), does Kushner have any other major successes for the last three years?

    ReplyReply
  19. de stijl says:

    @mattbernius:

    He is not currently imprisoned.

    And he kissed up to S.A. after MBS had Khashoggi killed in Istanbul and some deluded idiots wanted justice.

    Pretty much covers it.

    ReplyReply
  20. RWB says:

    This makes perfect sense. Jared looks like the kind of person that is good at putting up walls between people.

    ReplyReply
  21. gVOR08 says:

    This whole fence saga is so absurd it’s hard to take any piece of it seriously. Sort of like potential impeachment charges, where do you start?

    it’s difficult to see how Kushner is going to be able to succeed where all those before him have failed.

    The only way they succeed at anything else. They’ll lie.

    And it’s good to see the quoted article note that this is almost entirely replacement fence. Articles so often leave it unclear this isn’t brand new barrier.

    ReplyReply
  22. Kathy says:

    On second thought, maybe Jared can pull it off. at least well enough to earn the highest praise from El Cheeto. All he needs is a few photographs and a black Sharpie.

    ReplyReply
  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    Ben Garrison is basically McNaughton’s cringy concepts without McNaughton’s actual artistic talent.

    ReplyReply
  24. Mikey says:

    Am I the only one who thinks this is somehow intended to end up lining the Trump family’s pockets?

    ReplyReply
  25. David M says:

    @Mikey:

    Normally I’d say yes, as almost everything is a grift for Trump, but I think he does the racism for free.

    ReplyReply
  26. Mikey says:

    @David M: Fair point. You know you really love your work when you’d do it for free.

    ReplyReply
  27. CSK says:

    @Mikey: The wall? Of course it is. Since he’s the world’s greatest builder, Trump will negotiate a fat consulting fee for himself.

    I’m only semi-joking; if he could, he would.

    ReplyReply
  28. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Is Garrison mostly an editorial cartoonist?

    I saw lots of that and one fine art piece of Geo Washington kneeling in the snow praying which was def cringey. The background didn’t even feature Obama looking all muslimmy. One star. Cannot recommend.

    I wanted more super idolatrous really bad fine art.

    Is there more? What I saw was a bit Der Sturmer cartoony.

    Sad fascist cartoons not lol bad disturbing Rockwell knock-offs. I prefer McNaughton where background Clinton is holding an enormous dildo, which isn’t factually true in his oeuvre, but it should be.

    ReplyReply
  29. pylon says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Frankly, this may be the most human thing Trump has ever tweeted. I kind of assumed it was self deprecating and about the “gorgeous chest” comments. Which perhaps means it wasn’t his idea, that someone else has that purpose but convinced Cheeto it was how people see him.

    ReplyReply
  30. Michael Cain says:

    I assume the fixation with Texas is because so much of the border in the other three states already has some sort of barrier, so would just be “upgrades”.

    ReplyReply
  31. Pylon says:

    Apparently Trump thinks that the commemoration of the centennial of women’s voting rights should be been done “a long time ago”.

    He’s dumb.

    ReplyReply
  32. Jax says:

    @Pylon: It goes even beyond dumb, I mean, the guy supposedly went to good schools. This is “My Daddy’s so rich I get A’s without doing any of the work” dumb.

    And the rubes fall for it.

    ReplyReply
  33. Stone says:

    @de stijl: Belongs next to the framed print of dogs playing poker.

    ReplyReply

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