Trump’s son-in-law to become White House aide

Jonathan Lemire
Associated Press

New York — President-elect Donald Trump’s influential son-in-law Jared Kushner will join him in the White House as a senior adviser, transition officials said Monday, putting the young real estate executive in position to exert broad sway over both domestic and foreign policy, particularly Middle East issues and trade negotiations.

Trump has come to rely heavily on Kushner, who is married to the president-elect’s daughter Ivanka. Since the election, Kushner has been one of the transition team’s main liaisons to foreign governments, communicating with Israeli officials and meeting last week with Britain’s foreign minister. He’s also huddled with congressional leaders and helped interview Cabinet candidates.

His eligibility could be challenged. But Kushner lawyer Jamie Gorelick argued Monday that a 1967 law meant to bar government officials from hiring relatives does not apply to the West Wing. She cites a later congressional measure to allow the president “unfettered” and “sweeping” authority in hiring staff.

Kushner, who will not be taking a salary, will resign as CEO of his family’s real estate company and as publisher of the New York Observer, as well as divest “substantial assets,” Gorelick said. She said Kushner will recuse himself “from particular matters that would have a direct and predictable effect on his remaining financial interests.”

Ivanka Trump, who also played a significant role advising her father during the presidential campaign, will not be taking a formal White House position, transition officials said. She is the mother of three young children, and her immediate plans are focusing on her family’s move from New York to Washington, though officials said her role could change in the future.

Officials also said Ivanka Trump would be leaving her executive roles at the Trump Organization — her father’s real estate company — and her own fashion brands.

The anti-nepotism law has appeared to be the main obstacle to both Kushner and Ivanka Trump joining the White House. In arguing that the measure did not apply to the West Wing, Kushner’s lawyer cited an opinion from two federal court judges in a 1993 case involving Hillary Clinton’s work on her husband’s health care law.

Norman Eisen, who served as President Barack Obama’s government ethics lawyer, said there is a “murky legal landscape” regarding the anti-nepotism law. But he said Kushner appeared to be taking the proper steps regarding the ethics and disclosure requirements for federal employees.

Kushner, who turns 36 on Tuesday, emerged as one of Trump’s most powerful campaign advisers during his father-in-law’s often unorthodox presidential bid — a calming presence in an otherwise chaotic campaign. Soft-spoken and press shy, he was deeply involved in the campaign’s digital efforts and was usually at Trump’s side during the election’s closing weeks.

He has continued to be a commanding presence during the transition.

Trump to meet with press

On Wednesday, Trump is scheduled to hold a long-delayed news conference to describe his plans for his global business empire to avoid conflicts of interest while he’s president. While Trump has taken sporadic questions from reporters, it will be his first full-fledged news conference since July 27.