Jared Kushner told a group of congressional interns Monday he was skeptical the Trump administration could find a "unique" solution to creating peace in the Middle East.
During the off-the-record event, an intern asked Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and a senior adviser at the White House, how he plans to negotiate a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, and why he feels the Trump administration will be successful in these efforts.
"What do we offer that's unique? I don't know," Kushner said in response. "I'm sure everyone that's tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we're trying to follow very logically. We're thinking about what the right end state is, and we're trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there's a solution.
"And there may be no solution, but it's one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So, we're going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future."
Since joining the White House, Kushner has been tasked with a growing portfolio across a wide range of issues, including criminal justice reform, the opioid crisis, the government's use of technology, and the Middle East.
Kushner's speech to congressional interns was off-the-record, and Katie Patru, deputy staff director for Member Services, Outreach and Communications, issued a stern warning to interns before the talk.
"To record today's session would be such a breach of trust, from my opinion. This town is full of leakers and everyone knows who they are, and no one trusts them," she said, according to Wired.
"In this business, your reputation is everything. I've been on the Hill for 15 years. I've sat in countless meetings with members of Congress where important decisions were being made. During all those years in all those meetings, I never once leaked to a reporter. … If someone in your office has asked you to break our protocol and give you a recording so they can leak it, as a manager, that bothers me at my core."
Despite Patru's comments, an intern leaked audio of Kushner's speech to Wired.
In addition to expressing skepticism toward finding a "unique" solution to the Middle East, Kushner lamented that "not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years."
The White House senior adviser also suggested he was frustrated by the response he's received after Kushner was tasked with trying to work toward a peace deal in the Middle East, especially from others trying to educate him on the situation he's inherited.
"Everyone finds an issue, that, ‘You have to understand what they did then,' and ‘You have to understand that they did this.' But how does that help us get peace?" he said. "Let's not focus on that. We don't want a history lesson. We've read enough books. Let's focus on how do you come up with a conclusion to that situation."