If Trump wants to anger all sides, give the impression of nepotism, and lose his base headed into re-election, his continued empowerment of Jared Kushner, his liberal policy novice son-in-law, to serve as a super chief of staff is the surest way to accomplish that goal.
Imagine if a Democrat president had a conservative political novice as a son-in-law and empowered him to strategize his policy promises. Now imagine if that individual then worked with anti-illegal immigration groups, such as the Federation for Immigration Reform and Numbers USA, to craft a negotiating plan on immigration with Republicans.
You just have to imagine it, because it would never happen, and even if it did, the Democrat base would obliterate this alliance in three seconds.
Yet that is exactly what is happening as Kushner works with Koch groups and associates who are as rabidly pro-open borders as any of the Democrat presidential candidates to craft our policies on immigration. Where is the outrage from conservatives who claim to wield influence?
Axios is reporting that Kushner “ran a white board planning session last week at the White House with the Koch network and other people who worked with him on criminal justice reform.” As I warned at the time of the prison reform bill, apparently due to Kushner’s influence, Trump flipped on his promise to get tougher on drug traffickers, many of whom are illegal aliens or working for the cartels. Kushner will try to recreate this success on amnesty. Axios states that the purpose of these meetings is “to see if the administration can replicate the approach they took to pass criminal justice reform to overhaul America’s immigration system.”
First, the sad irony and twisted Orwellian thinking behind this approach. On Tuesday, the sheriff of Cochise County appeared on my podcast and explained that his county is the only border region that is not experiencing more illegal immigration because of his 100 percent conviction rate on drug runners, including juveniles. That Kushner, the man who got Trump to go weak on these very people with essentially an amnesty bill for illegals through our criminal justice system, would now serve as the lead on the broader immigration issue is mind-boggling.
But let’s take this a step further. The Koch brothers have just declared war on Trump. They ran ads in support of the very Democrat senators we needed to defeat in the election. Trump himself has called them out.
The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more. I made…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2018
Yet, thanks to Kushner, they now have a stronger voice than any conservative both inside and outside the administration. According to the Axios report, two former Koch staffers, Brook Rollins and Josh Trevino, were at the meeting as well. Why in the world would Trump accept this?
The other problem is that there are almost no good guys in the room during these negotiations. I’ve intensely studied every aspect of the border and immigration problem with all its policy and political angles for years. Likewise, I know many people who have worked on this even longer. Why is the room full of complete novices like Kushner or people who have long supported amnesty, such as Mike Pence and Mick Mulvaney, rather than people who know the issue and support the president’s promises?
The entire strategy of pushing amnesty is not only wrong, it misses the point. At this point, not only does Trump have more leverage with the military declaration route, it speaks more to the actual problem at our border. The problem is much bigger than the few billion in funding for “strategic fencing.” The cartels need to be dealt with, and Trump needs a massive military buildup at our border. There are now counties getting overrun by diseases, tens of thousands of migrants, criminals, drugs, and cartels, and they only have a few sheriff’s deputies to deal with the problem. This is an invasion, and it calls for the military, regardless of whether we build more fencing.
Either way, once the military is deployed, Trump can build infrastructure to support it without new appropriations unless Congress writes a new statute or budget bill explicitly baring the president from doing so. But that would require his signature.
So why is Kushner negotiating down, against us, on amnesty, all for some pennies for the wall, when this is a policy problem and a military problem, not a funding issue?
Moreover, as I noted last week, the way to leverage DACA is by threatening to end it, which the president can do by April if he follows the Administrative Procedure Act. With Kushner praising DACA, he has no leverage to get anything from Democrats unless he massively expands the amnesty.
Axios reports, from an unnamed “senior official,” “Right now [Kushner is] just trying to understand the Republican position [on immigration] so that we can take all those views to the president and he can make an informed decision.”
Shouldn’t the top policy guy in the White House be someone who A) understands the issue and B) is taking the president’s view to the wayward Republicans, not vice versa?
Kushner was roundly mocked by all sides last week when he thought “moderate” Democrats would support his amnesty deal and that focusing on amnesty rather than more aggressively pushing votes on enforcement would pressure Democrats. It’s fine that Kushner doesn’t understand Congress and the political intricacies, but that is why such positions are usually left to the most seasoned politicos on either side. Under no conceivable political strategy can Kushner’s prominence in the White House be a net positive with any group of voters or any insiders, either, in the establishment or grassroots. It is pure self-destruction for Trump to continue allowing the Kushner-Koch show to be run out of his own White House.
It’s quite laudable that the president has such a close relationship with his children, including his son-in-law. But never mix family and politics; often, not even family and business. Trump would be wise to send Jared and Ivanka back to New York, lest the whole family be forced back to Trump Tower in 2020.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.