A White House source has told the news website Axios that Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, are squaring up for a “death match” with the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, who they may feel betrayed them.
The news follows a horrendous Tuesday for Kushner, the senior adviser to and son-in-law of President Donald Trump, and would be the latest example of internal strife at the Trump White House.
“Javanka and Kelly are locked in a death match,” the source told Axios’ Mike Allen. “Two enter. Only one survives.”
“Over the past few weeks I’ve found fewer people internally willing to defend Jared … Politically, I’ve never seen him so exposed,” another source told Axios.
On Tuesday, Kelly downgraded Kushner’s security clearances, a move likely to damage Kushner’s credibility as he tackles important initiatives like trade with China and peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
On the same day, The Washington Post published a bombshell report saying foreign officials in at least four countries had tried to manipulate Kushner into furthering their aims.
The foreign officials reportedly leveraged Kushner’s lack of foreign-policy experience and complicated business ties to push their agendas.
A spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer dismissed The Post’s story as “second-hand hearsay.”
Also Tuesday, Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Business Insider that by endorsing Trump’s announcement to run for office again in 2020 with his official White House title, Kushner may have committed “a clear violation of the Hatch Act.”
The Hatch Act bars government employees from using their titles in political efforts, and it has repeatedly tripped up Trump officials.
But despite the catastrophic day for Kushner, Kelly too appears to stand on shaky ground in the White House after reports surfaced that President Donald Trump was considering replacing him.
Trump was reportedly angered by Kelly’s response to the scandal involving Rob Porter, who resigned as White House staff secretary amid abuse allegations from his two ex-wives.
“Kelly is now just another staffer who could get fired any day of the week by Donald J. Trump,” one person close to the White House previously told Business Insider’s Allan Smith.
“Not that I expect him gone today or tomorrow. This is a lesson in what happens when the stabilizing force becomes the agent of chaos.”
Rumors of tensions, rough relations, and possible ousters have followed Trump’s inner circle throughout his presidency.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, have both also been rumored at different times to be leaving the administration, though the pair remain.
Allan Smith and Joe Perticone contributed to this report.