The Trump transition team has let it be known that Donald Trump will be appointing his own son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to a White House post. Specifically, he’ll be a “Senior Advisor to the President.”
There’s just one problem: for the last five-plus decades, there’s been a federal law prohibiting exactly that.
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.
Where “relative” means “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.” Hey look—they even defined it right there in the law.
Trump’s team, therefore, will have to argue that the executive branch of the U.S. government isn’t an “agency,” or that Trump doesn’t have “jurisdiction or control” over his senior adviser. Kushner has himself hired some lawyers to argue that.
The firm has concluded that one potential sticking point, a federal anti-nepotism law, is not applicable, though not all ethics experts agree. While the law prohibits federal officials from hiring relatives for agencies they lead, Mr. Kushner’s lawyers argue, among other things, that the White House is not an agency and is therefore exempt.
Who’s right? And will it even matter? Who knows. The only thing we do know is that Donald Trump seems to feel it is absolutely necessary that his family be involved in government with him, and this is almost certainly because Donald Trump knows he’s medically unfit for office and is counting on those close family members to do the work for him. (Again, prove us wrong, Donald!)