Donald Trump Believes in Family before Country – Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner, named Senior White House Advisor
Conflicts of interest – No big deal for Trump – family before country seems to be his mantra – presidency ethics, what’s that?
These types of dramas are played out repetitively in developing countries where family members often get key portfolios and are accepted norms, with some opposition, though, but not meaningful and powerful enough to make a difference. These countries have a history of a single family ruling the country for decades together, ironically, all in the name of democracy.
Trump naming son-in-law Jared Kushner as his Senior White House Advisor is in violation of the anti-nepotism law ratified in 1967 after President John. F. Kennedy appointed his brother attorney general in 1960. The law prohibits any federal official hiring a family member in an official capacity in the agency or department he is heading.
Trump, however, is of the view that Kushner would be a “tremendous asset” to the government and felt pride in giving him a “key leadership role” in his administration – a biased decision conveying complete disregard for the 1967 anti-nepotism law and bypassing all conflicts of interest insinuations.
The Democrats have demanded a review of the illegal appointment, in their view, citing the anti-nepotism law of 1967 and potential conflicts of interest.
The Department of Justice and the Office of Government Ethics have been asked to intervene by the members of the House Judiciary Committee and look into the matter.
Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, however, has contested claims of any kind of anti-nepotism law violation saying that Jared Kushner would relinquish his position as head of his family’s real estate business were he to take up the White House role as Senior Advisor, and even remove himself as the beneficiary of some of the family assets.
Jamie Gorelick representative of the law firm WilmerHale claimed that Mr. Kushner would abide by the federal ethics law and had even consulted the Office of Government Ethics about the lawful requirements for him to take up the White House advisory role.
In order to clear these doubts, we need to first examine the anti-nepotism law of 1967 in its entirety.
So, what does the anti-nepotism law say?
• It basically prohibits a public official from appointing or promoting a relative “to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control”
• The law was enacted by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967
• The reason for the enactment of the anti-nepotism law was the consequence of President John F. Kennedy appointing his brother Robert Kennedy to the position of Attorney General in 1960
• The law ensured that a President was prohibited from giving any Cabinet job to a relative
• Whether the law is applicable to non-Cabinet posts is not clear and contestable.