Once again, President Donald Trump finds himself in trouble after taking political advice from his son-in-law.
Over the last few months, Jared Kushner, who is also a White House senior adviser, was chief among those who lobbied the president to endorse Luther Strange, the losing candidate in Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary in Alabama.
According to two sources who work closely with the young real estate tycoon, Kushner suggested the endorsement, in part, because he believed that a Strange victory would enrage Steve Bannon, the newly reinstalled executive chairman of Breitbart News and a nemesis of Kushner’s from their time together in the Trump White House. Bannon backed the primary winner, Roy Moore, who thinks that homosexuality should be criminalized and suggested this week that parts of the United States are operating under Sharia.
Kushner also thought that getting Trump to support Strange would improve his own tenuous standing with Republican leaders in the Senate, according to several allies of Bannon. “He’s going to need them if things go south in the Russia investigation,” one explained.
The senatorial primary between Strange and Moore was widely viewed as a proxy war between the Republican Party’s establishment forces and its white nationalist fringe. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate majority leader, strongly supported Strange. Bannon, on the other hand, suggested at a rally for Moore on Monday that a “reckoning is coming” not just for McConnell, but for all the “donors” and “corporatists” he believes run the party.
That Trump ultimately supported Strange, tweeting on his behalf and attending a campaign event for him last week, was puzzling to many of the president’s supporters, given his strained relationship with McConnell and his sympathies for Bannon’s populist worldview. Presidents rarely endorse one candidate over another in a primary election. But Kushner was a critical early voice in convincing the president to take a side. McConnell and Rick Dearborn, the White House deputy chief of staff, also were instrumental at various points in the process. Sources close to Bannon noted that Trump first tweeted about Strange on Aug. 8, when Kushner was with the president at his country club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“No senior adviser to the president in their right mind would ever lead the president to get involved in a primary, let alone a highly contested one that pitted his own base against him,”…