The Strange True Story of Jared Kushner

The Strange True Story of Jared Kushner November 20, 2016

By all accounts, Jared Kushner is not just Donald Trump’s son-in-law, he’s also his closest and most influential adviser. I’ve been very curious to know what his story was and Daniel Golden, author of a book about the wealthy getting their kids into Ivy League schools, gives us the scoop.


In researching for his book, he came across Kushner, who had been admitted to Harvard despite mediocre grades and test scores. He noticed that his father, real estate magnate Charles Kushner, had given a hefty $2.5 million gift to the school shortly before he was admitted.

My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school. At the time, Harvard accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of twenty.)

I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.

“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”

But that’s just the beginning. Charles Kushner is also a convicted felon.

Charles Kushner differed from his peers on the committee in another way; he had a criminal record. Five years after Jared entered Harvard, the elder Kushner pleaded guilty in 2004 to tax violations, illegal campaign donations, and retaliating against a witness. (As it happens, the prosecutor in the case was Chris Christie, recently ousted as the head of Trump’s transition team.) Charles Kushner had hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, who was cooperating with federal authorities. Kushner then had a videotape of the tryst sent to his sister. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Those close to him have told reporters, without attribution of course, that Jared is obsessed with clearing his father’s name and that this explains why he’s stumped so hard for Trump despite being a registered Democrat (same with Ivanka, by the way). It also explains why that big Chris Christie purge of the transition team took place, that this was Jared’s way of getting back at Christie for prosecuting his father. And what he ultimately wants, again according to those near him, is for Trump to pardon his father and clear his name. Curiouser and curiouser.

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