President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner
gave a rare public speech Monday about how the Trump administration is working to modernize the federal government's antiquated technology system.
Kind of disappointed. Jared Kushner's making his first public remarks and he hasn't been hiding a cool Darth Vader voice. At all.— Karen DaltonBeninato (@kbeninato) June 19, 2017
Jared Kushner's voice sounds like a young Michael Cera. https://t.co/3t7klOd5RX— John Cohen (@JohnCohen1) June 19, 2017
This wasn't at all what I thought Jared Kushner would sound like pic.twitter.com/DbMWzixovY— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) June 19, 2017
There's some logic behind the attention. Kushner has been a powerful figure in the Trump administration, but he has largely remained mum — until Monday.
About two months earlier, the White House announced Kushner will be leading the Office of American Innovation, which is in charge of using the private sector to modernize the government, among other functions. That's on top of his other jobs of advising his father-in-law, brokering a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians and being a shadow diplomat on U.S.-Mexico talks.
Most recently, the Chinese government invited Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to visit Beijing — an indication of the couple's expanding role in foreign affairs, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
John Oliver summed it up best in April: “For someone with the amount of power that he has, have you ever heard him speak? Seriously, what does his voice sound like? You don't know, do you?”
“Saturday Night Live” also parodied his silence with a dialogue-less Jimmy Fallon (as Kushner) shaking his head sheepishly after Alec Baldwin (as Trump) asked him to talk.
Even if the speech drew attention to his voice, Kushner also had a message for tech leaders in his brief time from the podium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
“It turns out that federal agencies collectively operate 6,100 data centers, the vast majority of which can be consolidated and migrated to the cloud. Something a lot of you know a lot about. Many of our federal systems are decades old with our 10 oldest being between 39 and 56 years old. The Department of Defense, for example, still uses eight-inch floppy disks on some of its legacy systems.”
“We are here to improve the day-to-day lives of the average citizen. That's a core promise and we are keeping it. Together, we will unleash the creativity of the private sector to provide citizen services in a way that has never happened before.”
He also lauded the Trump administration's work to modernize and streamline the medical record systems of the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA announced earlier this month that it will use the same electronic records system that the Pentagon uses.
Kushner's speech also came as he's scrutinized over his communications with Russians. The Post reported last month that Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up secret and secure communications channel between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin.
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