Tuesday, January 10, 2017 9:33 am
Democrats have called for US President-elect Donald Trump’s naming of his son-in-law as a top adviser to be reviewed over concerns of nepotism and conflict of interest.
A group wants the Justice Department and Office of Government Ethics to scrutinise “legal issues” related to the appointment of Jared Kushner, 36.
His lawyer says the post does not breach anti-nepotism laws.
Mr Kushner is married to Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
The millionaire will step down as boss of his family’s real estate business and publisher of the New York Observer newspaper in order to comply with ethics laws, his lawyer Jamie Gorelick said.
The influential Trump adviser will also divest “substantial assets”, she said.
Mr Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president on 20 January. Several of his cabinet picks have business interests that will be scrutinised at confirmation hearings taking place this week.
Who is Jared Kushner?
Softly-spoken and usually camera-shy, Mr Kushner is a vastly wealthy property developer and publisher who played an influential role in Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and has been included in key meetings with foreign leaders during the transition period.
An Orthodox Jew whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, he was raised in Livingston, New Jersey, and went on to study sociology at Harvard.
His father, also a property mogul, was jailed for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering in 2005 by Chris Christie – then the US attorney for New Jersey.
Jared Kushner is said to have played a key role in the ousting of Mr Christie, by then New Jersey governor, from Mr Trump’s presidential campaign team last year.
What will Mr Kushner be doing as senior White House adviser?
On Sunday, Mr Kushner and Mr Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon met UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
In his new role, he will initially focus on trade policy and the Middle East, according to officials from the transition team.
What is the nepotism law?
Prevents public officials from promoting a relative “to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control” was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 thought to have been prompted by JFK’s appointment of brother Robert to attorney general post in 1960 the law would stop a president from giving a Cabinet job to a relative but whether it applies to non-Cabinet posts like advisers is untested
Democrats in the US Congress have called for the Justice Department to consider whether the appointment violates nepotism laws.
In their letter, the Democratic lawmakers, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, argue that a “strong case” can be made that a 1967 federal anti-nepotism statute applies to staff working in the White House, a position rejected by Mr Trump’s team.
They also raise questions about how, even with significant divestment, Mr Kushner could completely avoid conflicts of interest in his White House role.
Mr Kushner’s lawyer, Ms Gorelick, said he was committed to complying with federal ethics laws and had consulted with the Office of Government Ethics about what steps to take.
She added that he would not be paid for the advisory role.
What about Ivanka?
Ivanka Trump will step down from executive roles at the Trump Organization as well as her own fashion brands.
But she will not be taking an official role in her father’s government and instead will focus on raising her children.
Reports said last week that Ivanka and Jared and their children would be moving into a $5.5m (£4.5m) home in Washington DC’s wealthy Kalorama neighbourhood – at least for some time. The Obama family are due to be moving to the same area after leaving the White House.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump announced in November that his wife, Melania, would be staying in New York – at least initially – after his inauguration to allow their youngest son, Barron, to finish the school year.