January 15, 2017
The announcement that Donald Trump was appointing his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to the position of senior advisor on Monday left us all with a few questions. Firstly, who the hell is this guy? Secondly, is he going to step down from his position as executive of the Kushner Companies real estate empire? Or are conflicts of interest just the name of the game in this administration? Finally, is this move even legal?
In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson passed the anti-nepotism statute. It stated that no federal official could hire someone in their family to work under them. This stands in stark contrast to the capitalist world that Trump hails from, where nepotism has always been de rigeur. So naturally, he’s trying to get around this pesky rule. Since Kushner is apparently so talented that he could, according to Trump, “do peace in the Middle East”, he’s clearly essential to the new administration.
To combat this, Trump is trotting out a court opinion from 1993 and a separate provision of federal law from 1978 stating that the president could appoint White House staff “without any regard to any other provision of law”. He’s claiming that this means that the anti-nepotism law was never meant to apply to the White House but only for other elected government officials.
Henceforth, many legal experts are skeptical of this claim. Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, is one of them. “Congress didn’t in this law carve out an exception for the White House,” she said. “It’s quite broad in scope. It applies to the executive branch, the legislative branch, the judicial branch, the D.C. government.”
Kushner has been meeting with lawyers about the issue and plans to forgo a salary if needed to keep the position. Granted, he doesn’t need a salary as he already makes tons of money from his global real estate empire. Although this brings up the whole ethics issue.
What do you think of this move? Sound off in the comments below!
Image source: Salon