Jared Kushner was officially named on Monday to the position of senior advisor in his father in law Donald Trump’s White House. While Kushner has stated that he will sell off assets and sever business ties, many are still concerned about possible conflicts of interest.
President Elect Trump said of Kushner, “I am proud to have him in a key leadership role in my administration. He has been incredibly successful, in both business and now politics. He will be an invaluable member of my team as I set and execute an ambitious agenda, putting the American people first.”
The first problem for Jared is that many cite the Federal anti-nepotism law which could preclude his serving in the White House. The law came into effect in 1967 and was passed mainly because of a backlash to President Kennedy having appointed his brother Robert to be his attorney general.
Trump is hiring his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a senior adviser in the West Wing https://t.co/zJOhmGIYkT
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 10, 2017
But the Trump team asserts that these laws only apply to positions in Cabinet departments or Federal agencies, not the White House staff whose members are not subject to Congressional approval.
This was tested in 1993 when then President Bill Clinton appointed his wife Hillary to head a White House team which attempted to pass a national health insurance law. Federal courts upheld that appointment at the time.
The President Elect’s daughter Ivanka Trump is also expected to hold a senior position in his White House.
Many observers, including Trump critics, are happy with the appointment. They believe that Kushner will be a moderating influence on Trump and serve as the voice of reason in his administration.
But New York Magazine has made a strong argument that Jared Kushner is more like his father in law than people think
“Trump and Kushner have more in common than surface appearances might suggest. They are both bridge-and-tunnel guys — Trump is from Queens, Kushner from Livingston, New Jersey — who made their names in Manhattan and lived through tumultuous periods of tabloid fire and financial adversity, ” explains the magazine.
“As a developer, Trump took big risks in the 1980s and faced bankruptcy in the 1990s; Kushner took big risks before the 2008 financial crash and flirted with losing his family’s flagship building, 666 Fifth Avenue. Both came back. Kushner is often called “soft-spoken, ” in contrast to his bombastic father-in-law, but people who have worked with him say that’s deceiving: His voice is just literally soft. His opinions are anything but deferential.
“Above all, he and Trump share a clannish outlook on life, business, and politics. Trump prizes loyalty, especially when it flows upward, and no defender has been more steadfast during his turbulent struggle than Kushner. Neither forgets when he’s been wronged. They both appear to enjoy the metallic taste of payback, although of the two, Trump may be the more forgiving.”
Another criticism of the appointment of either Jared Kushner or his wife Ivanka Trump to official positions in the Trump administration deals with conflicts of interest. The two own their own businesses and there are concerns over whether they might use their new jobs for self-promotion. Ivanka Trump has already unabashedly worn clothing and jewelry made by her own company in public appearance including when the Trump family appeared on 60 Minutes after the election. Jared Kushner met with Chinese business partners of his just days after the election who reportedly asked about getting access in the future to the Trump White House.
Well now both Jared and Ivanka have announced plans to sever business ties before the January 20th inauguration of President Trump. Kushner said that he will step down as CEO of is family’s real estate company and from his publication the Observer. He will also sell off some of his assets.
Ivanka Trump will step down from her executive role in the Trump Organization and in her fashion brands, while taking no formal position in the White House.
But this has not been enough to allay the concerns of Democratic members of the Congress who continue to call for a review of the ethics and conflict of interest issues arsing from this appointment.
But nothing will prevent Mr. Kushner from assuming his new job. In recent administrations, the position of senior Advisor to the President has become the second most powerful one in the White House, even above that of White House Chief of Staff. The Senior Advisor has the President’s ear, is with him all of the time and does not need to be concerned with running the White House staff or making formal decisions which can anger Cabinet Secretaries or members of Congress.
In ten days Jared Kushner will become the second most powerful man in America.