News that White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is under scrutiny in the FBI’s Russia probe comes almost two months after chief strategist Steve Bannon expressed concern that Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials could harm Trump’s presidency.
Multiple news outlets reported Thursday evening that the FBI is looking into Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials after the election as part of the probe into Russian election meddling. Although Kushner has not been accused of any wrongdoing, the news appears to vindicate Bannon’s concerns that Kushner’s meetings would be a major distraction for the Trump White House.
The New York Times reported early last month that Bannon “told confidants that he believes Mr. Kushner’s contact with Russians, and his expected testimony before Congress on the subject, will become a major distraction for the White House.”
Bannon’s words of caution came as he and Kushner were locked in an internal White House power struggle, which Kushner ended up winning as Bannon saw his role diminished.
Kushner also played a key role in bringing Paul Manafort on as Trump’s campaign manager. Manafort, who left the campaign in August, is reportedly considered a formal subject of the FBI’s Russian investigation. (RELATED: Kushner And Ivanka Played Key Roles In Causing Trump’s Manafort Problem)
The building pressure around the Russia probe presents an opportunity for Bannon to regain some of his lost influence, White House sources confirmed to Axios, which noted that some of the internal bickering in the White House is subsiding as senior officials have found a common enemy.
“It is now very clear that there is a unified opponent and that’s ultimately the swamp, both with regard to the deep state leakers, to the partisan opponents and the people who just don’t want to give up their power. That includes the media,” one source told Axios’ Jonathan Swan. “Obviously you want [unity] under different circumstances but it’s really united this team and helped bring clarity to their focus.”
This article has been updated with additional information.