|Advisor to the Senior Advisor|
|Assumed office |
September 6, 2018
|Assistant to the Senior Advisor|
January 20, 2017 – September 6, 2018
|Born||November 4, 1988|
|Education||Queens College (BA)|
Harvard Law School (JD)
Avrahm (“Avi”) Berkowitz (born November 4, 1988) is an American attorney and political adviser, who currently serves as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Advisor to the Senior Advisor in President Donald Trump’s White House.
- 1 Education and early career
- 2 Career
- 3 Policy influence
- 4 Relationship with Jared Kushner
- 5 References
Education and early career
During law school, Berkowitz taught undergraduate classes. One class he taught was called “Road to the White House,” years before he would campaign for Donald Trump.
For a period of time, he lived and studied at a religious school in Israel.
Berkowitz grew up in Lawrence, a Long Island town located 45 minutes away from Manhattan. He attended a “local Orthodox day school”, Yeshiva of Far Rockaway for high school. After he graduated from high school, he studied at the Yeshiva Kol Torah (an Orthodox seminary) in Jerusalem. In 2009, he returned to the U.S. and enrolled in Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore. Eventually he transferred to Queens College, where he finished his undergraduate work.
Prior to serving in the White House, Berkowitz worked for Kushner at his company, Kushner Companies. Berkowitz then worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign before finally joining the White House staff after Trump was inaugurated.
The New York Observer
Berkowitz briefly worked as a writer for the New York Observer. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, high-level adviser, and future Berkowitz boss in the White House, had owned the newspaper since 2006.
Donald Trump presidential campaign (2016)
Berkowitz’s job on the Trump campaign was assistant director of data analytics. One of his jobs was to run a Facebook Live talk show called “Trump Tower Live.” The show was setup in a format similar to a cable TV talk show. At first, the talk show was broadcast before and after the presidential debates. In the final weeks leading up to the election, it played on a weekly basis.
The New York Times described Trump Tower Live in unflattering terms: “essentially agitprop [political propaganda] presented as news.” However, because of its format, the show “fueled speculation at the time that Trump would start his own national news network.”
The first episode of Trump Tower Live got 60,000 viewers.
Executive Office of the President
On September 6, 2018, the White House announced that Berkowitz was promoted, from Special Assistant to the President and Assistant to the Senior Advisor, to Deputy Assistant to the President and Advisor to the Senior Advisor. (Senior staff within the Executive Office of the President have the title Assistant to the President, second-level staff have the title Deputy Assistant to the President, and third-level staff have the title Special Assistant to the President).
Middle East peace plan
In 2019, White House advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt wrote a Middle East peace plan. Within the White House staff, they kept it a secret, limiting access to it to only four people; one of whom was Avi Berkowitz.
In February 2019, Berkowitz flew with Kushner to six countries (Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Saudi Arabia) in order to unveil a new closely-guarded plan to bring peace to the Middle East.
U.S. embassy in Israel
Berkowitz also played a key role in the U.S. decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Prison sentencing reform
Kushner led the White House effort to pass the First Step Act, legislation to reform prison sentencing. Kushner won “bipartisan praise for driving a 20-year effort to reform prison sentencing and criminal justice to the finish line and ignoring repeated declarations that it was dead . . .” Kushner hand-picked Berkowitz and only two other White House aides as part of his team to pass the legislation.
Relationship with Jared Kushner
Avi Berkowitz met Jared Kushner in Phoenix while he was a student. The two men met while playing basketball.
Once Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Berkowitz went to work at the White House as the “right-hand man” to Kushner. Berkowitz’s official title at the White House was “special assistant to the president and assistant to the senior adviser.”
- Relman, Eliza. "Jared Kushner's 28-year-old protégé is his right-hand man in the White House". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- "Trump TV Mastermind Avi Berkowitz Tapped as Assistant to Jared Kushner". Haaretz. 2017-01-20. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- Grynbaum, Michael M. (2016-10-26). "Trump TV Offers (Fledgling) Framework for Potential Media Future". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces Appointments for the Executive Office of the President". The White House. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- "In leaky White House, Trump team keeps Middle East peace plan secret". Reuters. 2019-04-11. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- Nast, Condé. "Jared Kushner Is Preparing for Another Face-to-Face Meeting with M.B.S." Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- Chozick, Amy; Seligson, Hannah (2018-11-17). "Are Jared and Ivanka Good for the Jews?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- "Jared Kushner 'indispensable' on prison reform, model for future Trump fights". Washington Examiner. 2018-12-13. Retrieved 2019-06-24.