President-elect Donald Trump intends to name his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to the position of senior adviser to the president, the transition team announced Monday.
Kushner is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and he played a critical behind-the-scenes role in Trump’s successful presidential campaign. As part of the president-elect’s inner circle, Kushner will work closely with incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.
“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,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.
“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,” Trump continued, without mentioning that Kushner is his son-in-law.
“I am energized by the shared passion of the President-elect and the American people,” Kushner said in the same statement. “I am humbled by the opportunity to join this very talented team.”
That Kushner would have a role in the Trump White House came as little surprise Monday to political observers. Kushner, Ivanka Trump and their three children recently secured a six-bedroom mansion in Washington’s tony Kalorama neighborhood, sparking rumors that the couple would be given official jobs in the White House.
Kushner’s lawyers confirmed Monday that the 35-year-old real estate developer will step down from his position as CEO of the Kushner Companies, his family’s real estate business, and divest himself of “substantial assets,” including his family’s flagship property at 666 Fifth Ave.
“Mr. Kushner is committed to complying with federal ethics laws and we have been consulting with the Office of Government Ethics regarding the steps he would take,” Kushner’s lawyer said in a statement.
Late Monday afternoon, numerous media outlets also reported that Ivanka Trump plans to resign from her family’s real estate company, as well as her fashion and lifestyle brands. Unlike her husband, Ivanka Trump does not intend to take a formal job in the Trump administration, according to those reports.
If Trump is serious about hiring his son-in-law to serve in the West Wing, the president-elect will need to tiptoe carefully around a federal law that bars public officials, including the president, from hiring their family members for government jobs. Luckily for Trump, the White House may be one of the few places in government where the nepotism rules do not apply.
The precedent-setting case for this was then-President Bill Clinton’s 1993 decision to name his wife, Hillary Clinton, to run his White House health care task force. When the appointment was challenged on the grounds that it violated the nepotism ban, a federal appeals court ruled that the White House was basically exempt from these rules. This was especially so, wrote the two appellate judges, if the position was unpaid.
In what appeared to be a nod to this precedent, Trump’s team announced that Kushner “has chosen to [forgo] his salary while serving in the administration.”