During a keynote address at the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center’s Second Step Presidential Justice Forum in Columbia, South Carolina, Donald Trump praised his son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, for his work on criminal justice reform. In particular, Trump highlighted Kushner’s work ensuring the First Step Act — which provides judges more freedom during sentencing, among other things — became law.
“I think I was telling [Senator] Tim [Scott] before and I pulled [Senator] Lindsey [Graham] aside and I said, ‘You know, I think he’s a liberal. He could be a liberal,'” Trump said, per Newsweek.
According to Trump, Kushner pushed him to sign the First Step Act into law, and this persistence worked.
“And we got it done, right Jared? We called a couple of folks that people didn’t think would come along and they were incredible once they understood what we were doing.”
Kushner was reportedly the primary force behind getting the act passed and worked with the White House and both Democratic and Republican legislators to achieve his goal. He has said that the process was personal for him, pointing to his father’s imprisonment.
“Over the course of 12 years, I had gone from the son of someone who was in federal prison to sitting in an office next to the president. This topic was too important to me not to give it attention.”
In an op-ed for Time, Kushner said that one of the most important factors in getting the legislation passed was learning that it’s necessary to talk to people on the other side of the political spectrum. According to Kushner, no political deals can be made by strictly focusing on people that agree with you.
Pres celebrating the First Step Act - which he signed into law in December, and he hails as "a bipartisan achievement" to give prisoners a second chance at life. "We had a lot of great people who came together to get it done," he said, singling out his son-in-law Jared Kushner. pic.twitter.com/R3Rc9I9k1W— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) April 1, 2019
Kushner claims that he hosted many bipartisan groups at their home for off-the-record dinners and typically focused each one on a specific legislative priority.
Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, who is also a White House senior adviser, was reportedly pressured by others in the administration about replacing Vice President Mike Pence with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. The revelation was made by Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, per Raw Story, who claims that the suggestions were made by White House officials that believed it would be a smart political move for Haley to be moved into the vice president position.
Although Haley denied having any role in the rumors of Pence’s purported replacement, Pence’s team allegedly isn’t convinced and believes she was the one who brought up the issue behind the scenes.