In a surprise announcement on Wednesday, Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, announced she would join her husband, Jared Kushner, in becoming a government employee. Her role will be that of being an unpaid advisor for her father in the White House.
The practice of relying on family members for advice is not unusual for a U.S. president, but giving them a formal role is not as common. Ms. Trump will become an assistant to the president along with Mr. Kushner who is a senior adviser.
Amid the move, questions were raised about Mr. Kushner’s appointment and possible violation of federal anti-nepotism laws, as seen via a memo written by the Justice Department during the month of January concluding that such rules did not apply to the White House.
Last week Ms. Trump said she planned on serving as an informal adviser to her father. She also indicated that she is in the process of receiving a government-issued security clearance along with communication devices.
“This arrangement appears designed to allow Ms. Trump to avoid the ethics, conflict-of-interest and other rules that apply to White House employees,” Norman L. Eisen and Richard W. Painter, White House ethics lawyers for Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, respectively, wrote in a letter to Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel.
Ms. Trump released the following statements after the concerns were voiced:
“I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House Office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees. Throughout this process, I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role.”
Ms. Trump stepped down from her branding and licensing company after her husband joined the administration.
Questions concerning conflict of interest related to those businesses have followed Ms. Trump since her father won the presidency. In December, The New York Times reported that she had joined a meeting between her father and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan while her company was finalizing a deal with an apparel company whose largest shareholder was a Japanese government-owned bank. However, the deal was later called off.
To minimize possible future conflicts of interest, The Times reported last week, Ms. Trump had transferred her brand’s assets to a trust overseen by her brother-in-law, Josh Kushner, and sister-in-law, Nicole Meyer. Additionally, she enlisted the help of Ms. Gorelick, a Democrat who served as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton.
Under the terms of the trust, Ms. Gorelick will review all new deals for Ms. Trump’s brand, flagging any potential conflicts of interest to Ms. Trump, who can exercise veto power or recuse herself from White House business.
Those close to Ms. Trump say her official title would not mean a discernible shift from the personal influence she has exercised with her father.
Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, referred to Ms. Trump as “ the first daughter” and said her service as an unpaid employee “affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.”
Source: The New York Times