WASHINGTON — Top White House aide — and presidential son-in-law — Jared Kushner is among the most powerful men in America, but few have heard him speak, until now.
In a White House full of loud voices, the powerful senior adviser tends to keep his mouth shut. He shuns televised interviews, avoids public speeches and rarely addresses a meeting when cameras are rolling, preferring to work behind the scenes.
His voice is common enough to those working in and around the White House, but Kushner on Monday gave rare public remarks.
In mid-to-high pitch, with long vowels and smooth consonants, the 36-year-old husband of Ivanka Trump for around seven minutes read prepared remarks on technological innovation.
“Together we have set ambitious goals and empowered interagency teams to tackle our objectives. It’s working and it’s very exciting,” he said.
News outlets pounced. “Jared Kushner Actually Has A Voice,” read a headline on the Huffington Post. Time’s online headline read: “Hear Jared Kushner Speak in a Rare Public Appearance.”
Since joining the administration, Kushner has been mocked by satirists for his monastic quiet.
Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin on comedy show Saturday Night Live affectionately described him “a little Jewish Amelie,” after the close-lipped and impish star of the eponymous French film.
Kushner sometimes speaks at sanctioned background briefings for reporters. He also briefly popped in to an interview that his wife, Ivanka Trump, did with CBS at the White House last month. He declined to join the interview, but when asked if he enjoyed their late-night walks on the Washington Mall, Kushner said: “Beautiful. Great company. Beautiful scenery.”
In the first days of his administration, Trump appeared to believe there was no challenge too confounding, no conflict too intractable for his son-in-law to tackle.
He has been tasked with resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America’s opioid epidemic and injecting the nation’s bureaucracy with entrepreneurial spirit.
Kushner is often seen standing beside Trump in the Oval Office or climbing the steps of Marine One but rarely heard beyond the corridors of power in Washington.
Hardline conservatives in the White House have long seen Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner — also a real estate developer — as “New York progressives” trying to bend the volatile president to their way of thinking.
Kushner will travel to the Middle East Wednesday on the latest peace drive, meeting leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas.