White House senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly struck a nerve with U.S. officials after he met with the Chinese ambassador multiple times, sometimes alone.
According to counterintelligence officials who spoke to the New Yorker, meeting with the ambassador alone is a huge risk.
“There’s nobody else there in the room to verify what was said and what wasn’t, so the Chinese can go back and claim anything,” one former senior U.S. official said. “I’m sorry, Jared — do you think your background is going to allow you to be able to outsmart the Chinese Ambassador?”
Kushner met with China's ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, along with the country’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, during the transition to discuss the future relations between the two countries. The Chinese kept the Obama administration in the loop when it came to these meetings.
Kushner also met with Cui in the White House after he joined the Trump administration and became a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Trump.
At times, officials found themselves questioning whether he was representing the U.S. or his personal business in these meetings and often resorted to seeking out intelligence reports to “see how Chinese diplomats described their dealings with Kushner.”
One former National Security Council official dismissed Kushner’s business expertise with China, suggesting that the Chinese were playing him for stupid because he was so “compliant.”
“He went in utterly unflanked by anyone who could find Beijing on a map,” the former NSC member said, while calling Kushner China’s “lucky charm.”
The president’s son-in-law previously drew criticism after he failed to disclose his contacts with foreign entities.