Trump names son-in-law for White House adviser role

Jared Kushner is slated to help shape mideast policy. He will need to prove that he is not violating a US law barring government officials from hiring relatives.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Jared Kushner (L) is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka (C). He will work closely with incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior strategist Steve Bannon in advising the president.

President-elect Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will become a senior White House adviser, transition officials said on Monday, in a rare case of a close presidential family member taking on a major job.

Trump's critics charge that his role as president causes conflicts of interest with his business dealings that could let him enrich himself through public office.

Trump has denied those accusations. In the case of Kushner, a president appointing a relative to a cabinet position could conflict with federal law. 

TRT World' s David Smith reports.

Conflict of interest?

Kushner, 35, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, will work closely with incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior strategist Steve Bannon in advising the new president, and the officials said he would focus at least in the beginning on trade policy and the Middle East.

Kushner's family has donated money to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal outposts under international law. Trump himself has said that he hopes his son-in-law will negotiate an end to conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

The incoming president has vowed to rewrite international trade deals to make them more favourable to the United States and has adopted a pro-Israel stance with a pledge to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

However, Kushner's own eligibility for the White House could be challenged, given a 1967 anti-nepotism law meant to bar government officials from hiring relatives.

Jamie Gorelick, a New York lawyer who served as deputy attorney general for Democratic President Bill Clinton, helped advise Kushner on whether he would violate the anti-nepotism statute and said on Monday he would not.

According to Gorelick, congress in 1978 authorised the president to hire personnel for the White House office "without regard" to federal personnel laws like the anti-nepotism statute, and that the Justice Department had described that authority as unfettered and sweeping.

"Even without that law, two DC Circuit decisions strongly suggest that the White House Office is not an 'agency' under the anti-nepotism statute, a position supported by the views of the Justice Department under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush," Gorelick said.

Ivanka, who like her husband has been a trusted adviser to the president-elect, will not take on a role in her father's White House but will focus instead on settling her family in Washington.

In order to comply with federal ethics laws, and after consulting the Office of Government Ethics, Kushner will take a number of steps to divest substantial assets, Gorelick said. 

Kushner will resign from his positions as chief executive of the Kushner Companies and as publisher of the New York Observer newspaper and divest from any interests in the New York Observer, Thrive Capital, 666 Fifth Avenue and any foreign investments. 

In addition, Kushner will recuse himself from participating in matters that could have a direct effect on his remaining financial interests.

Those interests include real estate in the New York area, Ivanka's interest in the new Trump hotel in Washington and the Ivanka Trump Brand fashion business, the officials said.

Ivanka will not participate in the management or operations of the Trump Organisation or the Ivanka Trump brand or fashion business.

She will divest significant assets including all common stock and resign from all officer and director positions she holds in the Trump Organisation.

TRTWorld and agencies