The Note: Kushner’s rising profile

PHOTO: Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, listens during a county sheriff listening session with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, on Feb. 7, 2017. PlayAndrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Day No. 75

THE BIG STORY: Jared Kushner is having his moment in the staff spotlight but he, of course, is no ordinary staffer. President Trump’s son-in-law is in Iraq, adding another piece to a portfolio that includes brokering Middle East peace, handling Mexico and solving the opioid abuse crisis, not to mention (if you believe scattered reports) sticking up for LGBT rights when it comes to potential executive orders. Much of the scrutiny has hovered over whether his charge is too broad, or whether his influence can be checked, or whether he can effectively shield himself from conflicts of interest. But what of his actual influence? Republicans who work often with the White House see Kushner as a valuable conduit who has the president’s ear, a solid thinker who seeks out and acts on input. And, actually to the relief of some White House allies, diplomatic Trump is, well, more diplomatic than campaign Trump. It may or may not be Kushner’s influence, but this line from the official readout of Trump’s meeting with Egypt’s president on Monday stood out: “The leaders agreed on the necessity of recognizing the peaceful nature of Islam and Muslims around the world.” We don’t know who wrote that line, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t assistant to the president Steve Bannon.

THE SLEEPER STORY: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is offering a “review” of all “existing or contemplated” consent decrees that local police agencies have reached with the federal government. Maybe the Justice Department lands where is started after looking at the agreements more closely. But that doesn’t look like the intent. This would mark a major pivot from Obama-era policies, where local incidents involving officers’ excessive use of force or apparent mistreatment of minorities quickly became federal issues, with all the scrutiny that attends. Going back and ripping up agreements already reached, starting with a delay on the Baltimore reforms reached after the Freddie Gray incident, is a troubling precedent, particularly considering that in some cases the local authorities sought out federal guidance and oversight.

THE SHINY STORY: President Trump is back to attacking the “crooked scheme against us.” This time there’s a new player in the thriller, one who’s particularly familiar to Trump backers and viewers of Fox News, which is offering new reporting on which the president is seizing. Susan Rice, who was President Obama’s national security adviser, now stands accused of seeking the “unmasking” of Trump associates caught up in U.S. surveillance efforts, the suggestion being that she sought to reveal their identities for political purposes. There are plenty of legally permissible reasons for a national security adviser to want more information about who was talking to whom in captured communications. There are potentially nefarious reasons, too. But proof is not yet in evidence in either direction. What is in evidence is that the White House has spent much of the past month seeking to justify a presidential tweet that the FBI director himself has said has no basis in evidence. President Obama still did not order his successor to be wiretapped.

TLDR: Jared Kushner is in Iraq, adding to his expanding portfolio that also includes brokering Middle East peace and solving the opioid abuse crisis, showing his influence on his father-in-law, but also how much President Trump trusts this senior adviser who is no ordinary staffer.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: Here's a photo from the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Jared Kushner in Iraq riding in a helicopter speaking with Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the combined joint task force. Kushner is there at the invite of Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, to get a firsthand assessment of the fight against ISIS.


--TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR CARTER PAGE TARGETED BY RUSSIAN SPIES: Two years before joining the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser, New York business consultant Carter Page was targeted for recruitment as an intelligence source by Russian spies promising favors for business opportunities in Russia, according to a sealed FBI complaint. Page confirmed to ABC News that he is the individual identified as "Male-1" in a 2015 court document submitted in a case involving the Russian spies. Page told ABC News he cooperated in the case, and felt the Feds "unmasked" him by describing him in January 2015 in a manner that would be known to energy insiders. ABC’s BRIAN ROSS and MATTHEW MOSK have more:

--WHITE HOUSE, REPUBLICANS TRYING TO REVIVE OBAMACARE REPEAL IN NEW TALKS: Republicans on Capitol Hill are in active discussions with the White House to resuscitate the Obamacare repeal effort after being forced to pull their first attempt at a bill -- the American Health Care Act -- from the House floor nearly two weeks ago over a lack of support. After Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, played golf last weekend with President Donald Trump and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney several House Republicans met with top administration officials at the White House Monday to discuss potential changes to the health care bill. ABC's BENJAMIN SIEGEL and ADAM KELSEY have more:

--TENSIONS FLARE OVER IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT BETWEEN LOCAL POLICE, TRUMP'S DHS: The Trump administration's stance toward "sanctuary cities" is increasingly angering state and local police in those areas, and tensions reached a boiling point during a recent meeting in Washington of local law enforcement and Homeland Security officials, sources told ABC News. A particular source of disagreement is over federal officials’ insistence that local police detain unauthorized immigrants beyond their sentences until immigration agents can pick them up for deportation -- a move that some law enforcement officials argue is illegal, explains ABC's MIKE LEVINE.


TRUMP SAYS US IS 'GREAT FRIEND AND ALLY' TO CONTROVERSIAL EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT EL-SISSI IN WHITE HOUSE MEETING. President Donald Trump welcomed Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to the White House Monday to discuss economic and security matters. This meeting was el-Sissi's first official state visit since he took power through a military coup in 2013. In a press conference Monday afternoon, Trump said he looks "forward to a very long and strong relationship" with the Egyptian president as they work to defeat together ISIS in the Middle East, ABC's RILEY BEGGIN and KATHERINE FAULDERS report.

NIXON BIOGRAPHER DETAILS PARALLELS WITH TRUMP PRESIDENCY. As Donald Trump's presidency begins to take shape, comparisons between the president and the architect of the greatest political scandal in American history -- Richard Nixon -- have been made numerous times. Nixon biographer John Aloysius Farrell says it may be too soon to say if the comparisons are accurate, writes ABC's RILEY BEGGIN. “We don’t know if anybody’s ever going to have to resign or go to jail” for Russian interference in the election last fall, he said.


FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP'S OFFICIAL PHOTO REVEALED. The White House released First lady Melania Trump's official portrait on Monday. “I am honored to serve in the role of First Lady, and look forward to working on behalf of the American people over the coming years,” Mrs. Trump said in a statement accompanying the photo's release. The photo was taken in the first lady's "new residence at the White House," according to the release. ABC's JORDYN PHELPS has more:


@adamentous: Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting hosted by the UAE to establish Trump-Putin back channel

@apalmerdc: NEWS: Ryan cutting million dollars DIRECTLY to members. Sign of how much effort he is putting on keeping the House.

@ByronYork: .@WSJopinion 'Rice would have had no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity'

@IngrahamAngle: Susan Rice was rewarded for her Benghazi testimony with her Nat'l Security post. She did what she was directed to do.

@mviser: Roy Williams on whether he'd take his NCAA championship team to the White House, if invited: "Let me think on it."