Who is Jared Kushner? Trump's son-in-law named his senior adviser

He's gone from New York businessman to top political aide, but what role does he really play in the president-elect's life?

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
(Image credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for People.com)

US businessman Jared Kushner has been named a senior adviser in his father-in-law Donald Trump's new administration.

His appointment to such a major position without any political background indicates "Trump intends to adopt the management style of a New York real estate empire, with family at the pinnacle and staff members, however trusted or talented, at the bottom", says the New York Times.

So who is Kushner?

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Like Trump himself, Kushner was born into a family of New York real estate developers. Raised in an Orthodox Jewish family in New Jersey, he entered the family business straight out of Harvard University.

He started dating Ivanka Trump in 2005 and after a brief split, the couple married in 2009. They now have three children together: Arabella, five, Joseph, three, and Theodore, who turns one in March.

Ivanka converted to Judaism to marry Kushner – a fact Trump has repeatedly referenced both to bolster his pro-Israel credentials and deflect accusations his campaign has flirted with anti-Semitic elements of the so-called "alt right".

What role will Kushner play in the White House?

As senior adviser, Kushner "will initially focus on trade policy and the Middle East", the BBC reports.

Regardless of official titles, Kushner and Ivanka were always going to represent a formidable power couple in any future Trump administration

Kushner has long been one of his father-in-law's closest advisers, while Ivanka – Trump's self-professed favourite child – was intimately involved in the election campaign and is said to exert an unmatched influence over the president-elect.

What has the reaction been?

US anti-nepotism law bars government officials from hiring relatives, but Trump's lawyers argue the legislation does not apply to White House staff - and that, in any case, Kushner's role will be unpaid and therefore exempt.

However, Democrats on the House judiciary committee have written to Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for an urgent review of the appointment, not only regarding anti-nepotism law, but also potential conflicts of interest arising from Kushner's multimillion dollar business holdings.

The Intercept says "a world leader turning his son-in-law into one of his foremost advisers has an extremely creepy vibe" and is a move "straight out of the third world dictator playbook".

Despite these concerns, Kushner's appointment offers a glimmer of hope to those disturbed by the incoming president's outlandish and often contradictory statements.

The businessman is considered a "steady and stabilising presence inside an often chaotic transition team", says the New York Times, and is said to have a "calming effect" on the president-elect.

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