Never before has an American President appointed so many family members to serve in his administration. Never before has an American President had so many potential conflicts of interest, and relied upon family members to run his businesses, suggesting that by doing so, Trump has eliminated the conflicts of interest.
Trump’s lawyer said that the president-elect’s fortune would be put in the hands of his three oldest children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump. All all three were named to Trump’s transition team, helping him pick who will run his administration. Then it was reported that the high-level security clearances were being sought for those three children and Trump’s son-in-law — something the Trump campaign eventually denied.
In 1967 Congress passed an anti-nepotism law. It reads:
“A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.”
Trump seems to believe he is not subject to this law. In fact the law was passed after JFK appointed his brother as the Attorney General. Certainly, at the time, Congress intended the law to restrict the President’s appointment of family members to positions in his administration.
Trump has created a new White House office with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.
Trump seems oblivious to any concern that he has gone too far in appointing family members to his administration. Trump has appointed Ivanka to a “voluntary” position in the White House. Yet with that position, she will get an office in the West Wing, security clearance, and government communications devices, all while maintaining ownership of her eponymous fashion and jewelry brand.
The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington.
That focus on Jared Kushner is timely. Trump has called his senior adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner, “a tremendous asset…throughout the campaign and transition.”
In fact, Trump has indicated that his son-in-law could help brokering peace in the Middle East, citing his family background, but critics have pointed out the Kushner is too inexperienced for the task, reports The Guardian.
Even more problematic is the involvement of Kushner with Russian officials. Senate investigators plan to question Kushner, as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin.
The White House Counsel’s Office was informed this month that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, wanted to question Mr. Kushner about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, according to the government officials. The meetings, which took place during the transition, included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.
Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner, which occurred at Trump Tower.
Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak’s request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which the United States placed on its sanctions list after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.
Sergey Kislyak is the Russian Ambassador and former FSB spy recruiter. Thus, it makes us pause to realize that this “tremendous asset” is having secret, undisclosed meetings with Russians. Even more unsettling is that meeting Kushner had with a Russian bank chairman, Sergey Gorkov. Gorkov’s state-run bank has been under US sanctions for nearly three years.