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Kushner's Iraq trip underscores Trump son-in-law's growing role

Jared Kushner, senior advisor to President Trump, is seen Wednesday in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Evan Vucci / Associated PressP)
Jared Kushner, senior advisor to President Trump, is seen Wednesday in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Evan Vucci / Associated PressP)

On the eve of his inauguration, President Trump turned to his daughter Ivanka and joked that he “sort of stole" her husband, Jared Kushner.

With a trip to Iraq, announced on Monday following his arrival in Baghdad, it became clear that Kushner’s role in the Trump administration has only grown bigger since then. 

Trump’s 36-year-old son-in-law seems to be everywhere for the president. He is known to advise on domestic policy and help craft foreign policy. Trump has given him special tasks as well, including an initiative to reinvent government, the type of project President Clinton gave to Vice President Al Gore, and broker peace in the Middle East, an issue that has vexed lifelong experts from every administration for decades. 

“If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can. OK?” Trump said at the inauguration-eve ball. “All my life, I’ve been hearing it’s the toughest deal in the world to make.”

Kushner is also taking a key role in shaping China policy ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Palm Beach with Trump at the end of the week.

With that level of influence in mind, it’s no surprise that Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, invited him to get an on-the-ground look at the conditions in Iraq.

A statement from Capt. Greg Hicks, Dunford’s spokesman, said Kushner arrived with Dunford and Thomas P. Bossert, Trump’s homeland security advisor.

 “Gen. Dunford invited Mr. Kushner and Mr. Bossert to meet with Iraqi leaders, senior U.S. advisors, and visit with U.S. forces in the field to receive an update on the status of the counter-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria,” the statement said, using an acronym for Islamic State. The statement noted that it was Kushner’s and Bossert’s first trip to Iraq.

In addition to his briefings, “Mr. Kushner is traveling on behalf of the President to express the President’s support and commitment to the Government of Iraq and U.S. personnel currently engaged in the campaign,” the statement said.

8:50 a.m.: This story was updated with staff reporting.

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