Jared Kushner’s ever-expanding portfolio has expanded again. Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been responsible over the years for peace in the Middle East, criminal-justice reform, running a shadow diplomacy operation with China and Mexico, leading the office of American innovation, convening pointless White House tech summits, and setting up a back channel of communication between the Trump campaign and Russia, is now running point on Trump’s border wall.
The Washington Post reports that Kushner was put in charge after Trump grew “frustrated with a lack of progress over one of his top priorities as he heads into a tough reelection campaign.”
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.
Kushner, the Post reports, is supposed to bring to the project what Trump was supposed to bring to the presidency: a private-sector approach emphasizing efficiency and results. So he’s pushing for expedited government usage of eminent domain to seize private land. Not because the need for the border barrier is greater than ever, but because Trump made a campaign promise to build at least 450 miles of border wall by the end of 2020. So far, 83 miles have been built.
Hitting that goal will be a heavy lift given the realities of the project. Even if all the land is snatched to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise, erecting hundreds of miles of wall by the end of 2020 will require a massive effort that would see roughly one new mile of wall erected each day.
Like many of his projects before, Kushner is not bringing a strong grasp of the underlying issues to this one. He’s been criticized for his ridiculous ideas, such as livestreaming the construction of the wall, and displayed a misunderstanding of government-procurement procedures and eminent-domain authorities. As one person told the Post, “His interventions actually just created more inefficiency in the process.” For those who oppose the construction of the border wall, there’s not better news than hearing that Trump has put the project in Jared’s portfolio.