New York (CNN)Donald Trump’s abrupt firing Monday of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski underscored the growing influence of Jared Kushner.
A real estate developer and publisher who is married to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, Kushner has seen his role swell from that of dutiful son-in-law to trusted campaign adviser.
The 35-year-old most recently put his power and influence to the test in making the case to Trump that he should dump Lewandowski. He was “intimately involved” in the decision, one source told CNN.
Kushner, along with Trump’s children, repeatedly butted heads with Lewandowski, who they felt was undermining their efforts to steer Trump in a more positive direction, multiple sources said. And rumors also swirled that Lewandowski was trying to plant negative stories in the press about Kushner to undercut Kushner’s influence.
Over time, Kushner has carved out a larger role for himself within the campaign.
After joining the billionaire sporadically on the campaign trail — standing quietly alongside his wife for brief moments on stage before adoring crowds of Trump supporters — Kushner took on his first campaign task by helping his father-in-law craft the policy and language for his speech in March before the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
The speech was no small affair for Trump, who used a teleprompter for the first time as he delivered the remarks before an audience skeptical of his commitment to protecting Israel.
Kushner has since taken on additional work within the campaign, spending more time with Trump. He’s helping the presumptive Republican nominee adjust to the reality of fundraising, which Trump largely eschewed during his primary campaign, a source told CNN.
“Jared has been very helpful on the fundraising side,” the source said.
Hours after his firing, even Lewandowski sang Kushner’s praises.
“He’s helped us from the onset,” Lewandowski told CNN’s Dana Bash, noting that Kushner has helped the campaign grow “a stronger social media presence.”
Kushner’s quiet influence came to the fore earlier this year, as Trump gave Kushner special shout-outs in his victory speeches, including his first after sweeping the New Hampshire primary.
And as he wrapped up the nomination after a crucial victory in Indiana, Trump again singled out Kushner for praise, immediately after thanking his top campaign staffers campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Lewandowski and spokeswoman Hope Hicks.
“Honestly, Jared is a very successful real estate person, but I actually think he likes politics more than he likes real estate. And he is very good at politics,” Trump said.
Kushner’s reaction to the flattery — bashfully tilting his head downward, blushing at the compliment — embodied the stark differences between the two men.
While both expanded the real estate businesses their fathers built, Kushner has kept a relatively low-profile despite amassing billions of dollars in properties over his decade in the cutthroat New York real estate market.
Trump cultivated his image and bolstered his brand in the New York tabloids with tales of sexual escapades, dates with models, and hyperbolic valuations of real estate deals. And his campaign has been defined by his controversial and at-times outrageous proposals and no-holds-barred tactics.
Kushner, by contrast, rarely sits for interviews and only rarely appears on television. And when he does, he doesn’t abandon his shyness and mild-mannered demeanor.
But Kushner is no stranger to controversy or the media glare.
His life took dramatic turn in 2004 when his father Charles Kushner, a real estate developer and top Democratic campaign donor, was arrested and charged with federal crimes, including tax evasion, witness tampering and campaign finance violations.
The elder Kushner would strike a plea deal and serve two years in prison, catapulting his son to the heights of power in the family’s top-tier real estate development firm.
At just 25, Kushner delved into another industry, publishing, when he purchased The New York Observer in 2006.
Ten years later, Kushner appears poised to add another bullet to his portfolio: politics.
Who is Jared Kushner?