How much responsibility will Donald Trump's children have over the next four years?

By Gavin Fernando of news.com.au

Giving his first official interview as President-elect on CBS's 60 Minutes, an important element sticks out: Donald Trump is not alone.

The Republican billionaire is surrounded by his glamorous family, each of whom played an important role in his 18-month election campaign.

To his left sits the incoming First Lady, his third wife Melania Trump, 46, and his daughter Ivanka, 35, who is arguably the most prominent and well-known of his children.

Behind them sit Mr Trump's three other children: Donald Trump Jr, 38, Eric, 32, and the lesser-known Tiffany, 23.

Giving his first televised interview since winning the top job, we get the powerful impression that America hasn't just elected one person. It's elected a tight-knit, glamorous, powerful family.

Even Hillary Clinton praised Mr Trump's children as his greatest asset.

During the second presidential debate in October, the Democratic candidate said: "His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald."

The extent of their involvement in his political career has been speculated over for months, with some suggesting some of Mr Trump's more dramatic campaign decisions were the work of his children.

Now the question everyone's wondering is: just how much influence will they have in the White House?


WILL TRUMP'S CHILDREN SERVE IN HIS ADMINISTRATION?

In the lead-up to the election campaign, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner played a key role as Mr Trump's influencers.

Ms Trump is tipped as one of her father's closest advisers. She's said to be responsible for important political decisions that occurred during the election, including firing Mr Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and picking Mike Pence as his running mate.

Meanwhile Mr Kushner was regarded as a shadow campaign manager, managing key events and serving as a trusted behind-the-scenes confidante to the presidential candidate.

During the 60 Minutes interview, Lesley Stahl asked Ivanka to address growing speculation that she would be part of the administration, but her response was somewhat vague.

"I'm going to be a daughter. But I've - I've said throughout the campaign that I am very passionate about certain issues. And that I want to fight for them."

When pressed further, she said there were things she felt "deeply strongly" about wage equality and childcare, but added that this wasn't in "a formal administrative capacity".

Regardless, whether they could legally serve in his administration is another story altogether.

While a sizeable portion of Mr Trump's transition team is family, federal law may prohibit his children from getting too involved in the White House.

Donald Trump, together with his family, from left, Eric Trump, Melania Trump and Tiffany Trump. Photo / AP
Donald Trump, together with his family, from left, Eric Trump, Melania Trump and Tiffany Trump. Photo / AP

As CNN points out, a statute passed in 1967 states that no public official - whether they be President or in a low-level managerial position - may hire or promote a relative. This law would also apply to Ivanka Trump's husband Jared Kushner; the law specifies that "son-in-law" constitutes a relative.

That said, there may be ways around it. The law states that any appointee who violates the law will not be paid for their work, which raises the possibility of Kushner or Trump's children serving the administration without being paid.

Mr Trump himself announced he would not take a salary while serving as president. The idea that his children might do the same in order to work for him is not outlandish.

Alternatively, they could hypothetically work as heads of task forces, which Hillary Clinton did during her husband's presidency.

THE FUTURE OF DONALD TRUMP'S BUSINESS

When asked if he wanted a job in his father's administration, Eric responded by saying the family have "an amazing company".

Eric said their father would now "rely on (the children) more than ever" as he stepped away from his company, suggesting their future would more be in handling their business.

"We'll be in New York and we'll take care of the business. I think we're going to have a lot of fun doing it. And we're going to make him very proud."

For several months now, it's been understood president-elect would likely divest interest in his 500 global companies to his children.

Donald Trump pumps his fist after giving his acceptance speech as his wife Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump. Photo / AP
Donald Trump pumps his fist after giving his acceptance speech as his wife Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump. Photo / AP

"If I become president, I couldn't care less about my company. It's peanuts," he told Fox News earlier this year. "Run the company, kids. Have a good time."

But while it's not illegal for a person elected to public office to maintain involvement in his business dealings, it's not ideal due to the potential corruption from mixing private interests and public power.

Last month Michael Cohen, an lawyer for Mr Trump and the Trump Organisation, told CNN the president-elect's children would take control of his multi-billion dollar enterprise if he won.

"They're really intelligent. They're really qualified. That's why he really didn't run in 2012, because they were younger by four years," Cohen said. "And they didn't have, I guess, the experience, maturity that he felt he wanted to leave a $10 billion company to. Now he does. He's very comfortable with them at the helm and the people that will surround them."

The family has repeatedly described the business divesting arrangement as a blind trust.

A blind trust is called such so that the business can be independently administered while its owner is in public office. This is designed to prevent a conflict of interest between their public duties and private enterprises.

But several media outlets have pointed out that Mr Trump's children managing his global companies does not constitute a blind trust, given their obviously close relationship blurs the line between his private company and his government.

In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America in September, Donald Trump Jr attempted to silence these insinuations.

When Stephanopoulos pointed out that it wouldn't be a blind trust if it was run by his children, Trump Jr responded: "It is because he'll have nothing to do with it, George. He's said that.

Ivanka Trump speaks beside her father Donald Trump. Photo / AP
Ivanka Trump speaks beside her father Donald Trump. Photo / AP

"He wants nothing to do with it. He wants to fix this country. He wants get the country on the right track again.

"We're not going to discuss those things. We're just not - it doesn't matter. Trust me. As you know, it's a very fulltime job. He doesn't need to worry about the business. The business is in good hands. He trusts us with that, 100 per cent."

Whether Mr Trump himself understands what a blind trust is another question altogether.

In September, Fox's Maria Bartiromo asked the then-presidential candidate who would take control of his business if he were to win the election.

More specifically, she asked: "With such vast wealth, how difficult will it be for you to disentangle yourself from your business and your money and prioritise America's interest first?"

Mr Trump responded: "I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don't know if it's a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it. If that's a blind trust, I don't know."

Mr Trump has a net worth of $US3.7b ($A4.89 billion), on Forbes estimates, consisting of a massive business portfolio of real estate, hotels, golf courses, casinos, model management, fragrances, private jet management and productions.

Putting his children in charge of this empire would give him the liberty of getting constant updates on how the enterprise is running.

Technically, at least, there'd be nothing to stop him from instructing them using his unique access to global information that might be useful to the company.

Mr Trump has previously been accused of using his political platform for private financial gain.

Earlier this year, The Huffington Post revealed the billionaire used donation money from his supporters to buy nearly $300,000 worth of his own books, then fuelled the royalty profits back into his own businesses while artificially boosting his sales figures.

Similarly, in August, TheDaily Beast reported he had paid Barnes & Noble over $55,000 in donor money, amounting to several thousand copies of his book Crippled America: How To Make America Great Again.

The Trump campaign did not confirm or deny whether the Republican candidate had agreed to forgo royalties for book sales.

- news.com.au

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