The Trump Administration Considers an Old Friend: Ken Kurson

Ken Kurson, a friend of President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and a former editor of The New York Observer, the newspaper owned by Mr. Kushner’s family, confirmed on Friday that he is under consideration for an unpaid position with the Trump administration.

As part of a background check, the F.B.I. recently visited The Observer’s offices and has conducted interviews with journalists who have worked with Mr. Kurson, according to two people familiar with the matter. Such checks are standard for anyone who is up for a post in a presidential administration.

In an interview, Mr. Kurson described his possible appointment as an “honorary type position.” He added that it would be “like one of those boards, where there are several members.”

The White House press office did not respond to a request for comment.

Before he joined The Observer in 2013, Mr. Kurson was a speechwriter for Rudolph W. Giuliani. He was also the co-author of Mr. Giuliani’s 2002 book, “Leadership.” Last May, he left The Observer for a job as a senior managing director at Teneo, an international consulting firm whose founders include two longtime advisers to former President Bill Clinton.

Detractors of Mr. Kurson’s four-year tenure at The Observer, both inside and outside the newsroom, said that he used his position to favor the boss’s father-in-law. One reporter and one critic at the paper resigned in April 2016 when The Observer published a muscular endorsement of Mr. Trump before the New York primary.

That same month, Mr. Kurson advised Mr. Trump on a speech the candidate delivered to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. After he was widely criticized for lending assistance to Mr. Trump while overseeing the paper’s coverage of the presidential race, Mr. Kurson said that he would no longer offer input to the Trump campaign. Months after the speech, Mr. Kurson was spotted in the Trump family box at the Republican National Convention.

“As for the 2016 AIPAC speech, I decided to help with that because of my concern for the safety and security of the State of Israel,” Mr. Kurson said in an email. “I definitely could have handled it better as far as communicating with the Observer staff.”

In March, The Atlantic published a first-person article by the journalist Deborah Copaken headlined “How to Lose Your Job From Sexual Harassment in 33 Easy Steps.” In it, she wrote that Mr. Kurson flirted with her inappropriately and made a joke about her breasts at a lunch meeting during which they discussed an article she had written on her battle with breast cancer.

Concerning Ms. Copaken’s account, Mr. Kurson said, “I categorically deny any claim of inappropriate behavior.”

His tenure at The Observer was perhaps best known for an article on the New York State attorney general at the time, Eric T. Schneiderman, that he originally assigned to an ice cream shop manager. At the time of the assignment, Mr. Schneiderman was suing Mr. Trump’s education business, Trump University. The ice cream shop manager, Bill Gifford, said he decided against writing the article after concluding that it “was supposed to be basically a smear piece.”

The article on Mr. Schneiderman that eventually ran in The Observer was written by Michael Craig, a freelance writer based in Arizona. “I’ll leave the final judgment to others, but I am proud that not a single fact was ever challenged in Michael Craig’s brilliant 8,000-word story,” Mr. Kurson said. “I personally conducted the interviews with Donald Trump and with his representatives for it, but neither Donald Trump nor Jared Kushner had any role in creating that story. I saw it as a classic Observer ‘battle of Manhattan titans’ type story.”

Mr. Schneiderman resigned from his job on Monday, hours after The New Yorker reported that he had assaulted four women.

The Daily Beast first reported that Mr. Kurson was being considered for a Trump administration post.