President-elect Trump has officially appointed his son-in-law Jared Kushner as one of his senior advisers on Monday.
Kushner was a key player on Trump’s presidential campaign team and will continue his political strategist role as a senior official in the White House.
The soon-to-be president’s son-in-law will be stepping down from the management positions he holds at his companies, this includes his family’s successful real estate firm and the publishing company Observer Media, which prints the New York Observer.
Kushner had planned to return to managing his family business, but was persuaded to stay on Trump’s advisory team.
He has been heavily involved in the transition team’s efforts, specifically he has had meetings with foreign governments, including with Israeli officials and Britain’s foreign minister. He will be focusing on the Middle East and trade deals.
Kushner, like Trump, will not be taking a salary for his new White House position.
“Jared has been a tremendous asset and trusted advisor throughout the campaign and transition and I am proud to have him in a key leadership role in my administration,” said Trump in a statement. “He has been incredibly successful, in both business and now politics.”
The decision was announced in an unexpected conference call with reporters by a senior transition official and a Kushner attorney.
Kushner’s wife and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump will be stepping down from several Trump organization roles too.
“On the call, the attorney also outlined some preliminary steps Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife, is taking to limit her direct hand in running the Trump Organization. But she will continue to have an interest in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. and the Ivanka Trump fashion business, a Kushner lawyer said,” writes Politico.
As expected, there has been some pushback from democrats about the appointment.
“Top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee issued a statement within hours of Kushner’s appointment calling on the Justice Department and the Office of Government Ethics to review the appointment’s legality in light of the anti-nepotism statute,” writes CNN.
“There is a strong case to be made that the White House is an “agency” for purposes of the anti-nepotism statute and that it would apply to bar Mr. Kushner’s appointment as a White House staff member,” wrote Rep. John Conyers, the House Judiciary Committee’s ranking member.
However, Trump’s team is prepared for combat. Kushner’s attorney Jamie Gorelick said that the anti-nepotism statue does not apply to the White House office and strictly applies to the presidential administrations.
“We have the better argument,” said Gorelick to CNN. “We are very confident in this position.”
According to his attorney, Kushner will not be involved in “particular matters that would have a direct and predictable effect on his remaining financial interests.”
“He will also abide by federal rules requiring impartiality in particular matters involving specific parties. These steps are consistent with federal law and executive branch practice and evidence Mr. Kushner’s commitment to public service,” said Gorelick to CNN.
Kushner will be making significant steps to recuse himself from foreign investment projects, along with separating himself from business assets.
“Kushner will divest from all common stock and over 35 other investments, his attorney said, including: all foreign investments; Thrive Capital, a venture capital fund co-founded by his younger brother, Josh; and his interests in the company’s crown jewel property, 666 Fifth Avenue, where Kushner keeps his corner office. Gorelick said the divestments will be carried out through sales at fair-market value,” writes Politico.
Norman Eisen, who was formerly President Barack Obama’s government ethics lawyer, has said that Kushner seems to be taking the appropriate steps regarding the ethnics requirements for federal employees and the anti-nepotism law.
Liberal media has been quick to point out that the Kushner family has been previously tied to the Democratic Party. Jared’s father, Charles Kushner has given over $1 million to democrats and a $90,000 to Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign. Jared has also donated over $60,000 to the democratic party and $11,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns over the years.
But, Kushner has eloquently defended this.
“There’s some aspects of the Democrat Party that didn’t speak to me, and there are some aspects of the Republican Party that didn’t speak to me,” said Kushner to Forbes in November. “People in the political world try to put you into different buckets based on what exists. I think Trump’s creating his own bucket—a blend of what works and eliminating what doesn’t work.”
Editor’s note: This does indeed open Trump to accusations of nepotism, but Trump seems to thrive on critiism. On the other hand, as Gingrich said, Trump needs people around him he can trust and who he is comfortable with.