This actually may be against the law.
In what one expert is calling his “first attempt to ignore the law,” Donald Trump has announced that he plans to name his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as his senior White House adviser after he’s sworn in as President of the United States next week.
Kushner is married to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka – the one whose butt he touched onstage at the Republican National Convention – and is a wealthy real estate developer, just like his father-in-law.
However, in the US, a 1967 anti-nepotism law prevents public officials from using their influence to place family members in government positions. Congress passed the law after President John F. Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert, as attorney general. It reads, in part:
A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.
But it’s not completely clear whether the law applies to White House staff positions. An adviser is a different sort of role than, say, a Cabinet member, leaving some room for debate about the law’s exact intent. For example: when President Bill Clinton named his wife, Hillary, as head of his health care reform team, they faced a lawsuit. Because Hillary Clinton was not considered an official government employee, she was allowed to hold the position as long as meetings were open to the public.
Trump and Kushner have reportedly been in meetings with lawyers for weeks, trying to find their way around any regulation that would keep Trump from giving Kushner a job in the White House. After consulting with the Office of Government Ethics, Kushner resigned from his real estate company. It seems he may also forgo a paycheck for his work as a presidential adviser and put his assets into a blind trust.
Government ethics expert Kathleen Clark told The Washington Post that with this appointment, Trump is “testing the waters” to see what he can get away with. Whether he does, says Clark, “depends…in part on the public response as well as the congressional response.”
If that’s the case, then it’s more important than ever that people use their voices to protest Trump’s presidency and make it clear that he does not represent their interests – and that he may not continue putting his family in positions of power.
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