President Trump is using his administration’s successful campaign for criminal justice reform as a key to wooing blacks and poor Americans to his reelection campaign, but in a rare move this week, took a step back to give credit for the effort to his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
In Las Vegas Thursday to address ex-prison inmates making the shift to freedom, Trump praised Kushner repeatedly.
“Is Jared around?” he said. “Jared Kushner … the father of criminal justice reform. He really is. I mean, he works so hard,” Trump said at the commencement address at the Hope for Prisoners graduation ceremony.
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What a day…. Congrats graduates. Today not only are you starting the rest of your lives as productive members of society and being the HOPE for the prisoners, but you got to see a historic PARTNERSHIP, not partisanship. You saw nothing but two forces coming together with one common goal of reimagining reentry to the highest level. Thank you @realdonaldtrump for shinning a light on something that in the past been in the dark. We at HOPE For Prisoners are ready to flip reentry on its head and show the world that our graduates are some of the highest quality individuals who are ready to take on life with all the tools needed to be successful! Thank you to everyone who came out to support us and we will see you in April for our Month of Second Chances Luncheon! 💙 📸: @cchhaassee
Speaking to some 29 graduates of the program, the president added: “Thank you, Jared. … He never wants any credit. He does a lot. He works hard. But that’s working out very well.”
Kushner, who like his wife, Ivanka Trump, and the president, takes no salary, has become both the president’s crisis policy chief and jack-of-all-trades, handling issues from Middle East peace, to immigration, to the Olympics to the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal.
It was Kushner and his wife who helped to orchestrate passage of the First Step Act, bringing together libertarians, conservatives, liberals, Hollywood, and sleepy think tanks.
“We had liberal support, we had conservative support,” said Trump while at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. “And they came to me, and they needed some help, and we got help from some very unexpected places. Votes. We needed votes. And we got some great people — Republicans in all cases, in this case. But we got some great people to vote for criminal justice reform.”
“In fact, very conservative Republicans. So that was a good sign. Very bipartisan. And it was a terrific thing, and we really — we did something that they’ve been trying to do for a long time, and we got it done. We get a lot of things done. We get a lot of things done,” Trump said.
Trump has in the past noted Kushner’s role, but on Thursday, his comments had outsize meaning since it was at the jail-to-freedom graduation and came amid reports that the White House and Kushner were playing a bigger role in granting presidential pardons.
Some reports have suggested that Kushner’s team was taking over the pardon process from the Justice Department, but officials told Secrets that those stories were wrong and that Kushner was being given a role in the process. Officials said he planned to act as a channel for outside groups seeking pardons.
Trump’s focus Thursday also pushed back on earlier reports that the president wasn’t happy that he OK’d prison reform. In fact, the president’s team featured the issue in a Super Bowl ad.
In his address, Trump again promised that the criminal justice program Kushner helped develop would make sure that exiting prisoners would get support.
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