Donald Trump's son-in-law 'to be named senior adviser'

By John Wagner

Jared Kushner, son-in-law of of President-elect Donald Trump. Photo / AP
Jared Kushner, son-in-law of of President-elect Donald Trump. Photo / AP

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of president-elect Donald Trump and one of his closest confidants, is expected to join the White House as a senior adviser to the president, according to a person close to the transition.

Trump relied heavily on Kushner's advice during the campaign, and his move to the White House was expected. But ethics experts have raised questions about whether Kushner's role in the new administration will run up against a federal anti-nepotism law and how he will separate himself from his real estate business to avoid conflicts of interest. His appointment is expected to be formally announced later this week.

Kushner, 35, is married to Ivanka Trump and has run his family's multibillion-dollar business over the past decade, after his father pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges.

As Trump campaigned for president, Kushner played a key role, acting as an adviser and gatekeeper. Kushner, whose family has donated to pro-Israel causes, also played a role as a Middle East policy adviser.

Kushner's appointment was telegraphed over the weekend by a statement from his lawyer that said that Kushner is preparing to resign from his position overseeing his family's real estate empire and to divest "substantial assets" if he takes a role in Trump's White House.

Some ethical experts question whether a Kushner appointment would violate a federal anti-nepotism statute. The 1967 law, which came about after President John F. Kennedy named his brother as attorney general, forbids public officials from hiring family members in agencies or offices they oversee. It explicitly lists sons-in-laws as prohibited employees.

Some lawyers argue that the White House is exempt because it is not considered an agency.

But both Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyers under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively, say they counselled their presidents to avoiding appointing relatives to West Wing jobs.

Trump could ask Congress to amend the statute if he wanted to make it explicit that Kushner is free to serve.

The issue was examined but not resolved in a court case in the early 1990s involving Hillary Clinton's leadership of a health care panel.

Kushner has a web of business interests, focused heavily on real estate development.

Though Kushner's company is focused primarily on development in New York and New Jersey, it has often relied on foreign investment, and its earnings could be influenced by Trump administration trade and foreign relations policies.

Kushner's lawyer, WilmerHale partner Jamie Gorelick, said Saturday that Kushner would recuse himself from matters that would have a direct impact on his remaining financial interests and abide by other federal ethics rules.

Trump declined to discuss Kushner's role when talking to reporters Monday morning (Tuesday NZ time).

- Washington Post

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