Raising eyebrows once again about President Donald Trump's merging of family and government business, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner accompanied the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman on an official visit to Iraq on Monday.
Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, has no diplomatic, military, or foreign policy experience. Nevertheless, he has been tasked by the president with brokering Middle East peace, according to the Washington Post, and his trip to Iraq marks an expansion of his role as a shadow diplomat.
Notably, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—who has been criticized for keeping a bizarrely low profile and avoiding the press—has not yet visited Iraq.
Meanwhile, Kushner has "taken on some international outreach for the White House," the Post writes, and his portfolio also includes China, Mexico, and Canada. Trump has strained U.S. relations with China and Mexico since taking office.
Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. "invited Mr. Kushner […] to meet with Iraqi leaders, senior U.S. advisors, and visit with U.S. forces in the field to receive an update on the status of the counter-ISIS campaign in Iraq and Syria," the Pentagon wrote in a statement.
The New York Times reported that it was "unclear what Mr. Kushner, who has been expanding his reach in his father-in-law's administration, planned to gain from the trip."
Indeed, Kushner has steadily broadened the scope of his powers since joining the White House in an official capacity. In addition to his role as a shadow diplomat, Kushner is also heading the Office of American Innovation, a White House team that will push for privatizing the federal government, as Common Dreams reported.
Ivanka Trump has also provoked outrage by taking part in White House meetings with foreign officials, and her recent appointment to an official advisory role garnered harsh critique from ethics watchdogs.
On Twitter, Kushner's visit to Iraq also prompted immediate condemnation:
Wait, isn't the Chairman of Joint Chiefs the President's envoy? Why is Jared Kushner in Iraq? Seems we have one family running our Govt.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) April 3, 2017
Can we just call Jared "SecState Kushner" already? He's in Iraq; owns MENA policy; on NSC; China deals with him; Tillerson is mostly AWOL...
— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) April 3, 2017
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 3, 2017
Jared Kushner Visits Iraq? Wasn't elected, wasn't vetted, wasn't confirmed? WTF
— ZN Rhodes (@znrhodes28) April 3, 2017
Unless Jared Kushner visits Iraq to go sightseeing, there's no reason for him to be there. He's just a realtor, not a diplomat#morningjoe
— Chi One (@ChiOneToo) April 3, 2017
15 Fucking Years Later All We Have To Offer The People of Iraq is Jared Kushner, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) April 3, 2017