President-elect Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has been named a senior advisor to the President in Trump's administration, the transition team announced.
Kushner is Ivanka Trump's husband, a prominent New York real estate investor and the owner of Observer Media. He played a prominent role in the transition. At one point he was reported to be at the center of "infighting" as Vice President-elect Mike Pence replaced former transition head Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Despite not having an official role in the campaign Kushner played a major role behind the scenes.
“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. “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.”
Jared Kushner will be named a senior adviser to the president, overcoming anti-nepotism laws, a senior transition official tells NBC.— Michael Wilner (@mawilner) January 9, 2017
The appointment raised flags with observers concerned over nepotism.
Attorneys pointed out that Kushner legally qualified as a relative of Trump.
The nepotism question
Federal guidelines forbid employees from hiring family members. However, Kushner's legal representatives have argued that the White House is not technically a federal agency, The New York Times reports.
Professor Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics attorney for President George W. Bush and a former Hillary Clinton supporter believes that this could be legal.
"This is just a question which reasonable people are going to disagree about the interpretation of the statute. I understand that Kushner's lawyers and the Trump transition team people are putting forth what I would call some very credible arguments, even if I don't necessarily agree with those arguments," Painter told Circa.
I would not go so far as to say that it's unethical or something like that for the president-elect to interpret the statute the way he is,
What are the arguments being made?
"There is one argument that the White House is not covered by the statute at all," according to Painter. "The other argument is that even if the White House is covered that the president can make whatever appointments he wants in the White House and if it covered the White House it would just cover a senior advisor in the White House getting his son an internship."
Painter never dealt with this issue at the White House so Trump could still be challenged on the Kushner appointment.
Kushner was spotted with a Chinese business tycoon after the election, talking business over $2,100 bottles of wine. Kushner Companies has acquired at least 120 properties in New York and New Jersey, according to Real Capital Analytics.
Forbes reported earlier Monday that Kushner was stepping down from his role at Kushner Companies.
He has also been reportedly meeting with China's Anbang Insurance Group regarding selling some of his assets, including the pricey property at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City.