President-elect Donald Trump on Monday tapped his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to join his White House team as an unpaid senior adviser.
The appointment, announced by Trump’s transition team Monday evening, will test the reach of federal anti-nepotism laws that bar public officials from appointing relatives to the agencies they oversee. Trump’s advisers have argued those rules, passed in 1967, do not apply to White House positions.
Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka and who played a key role in shaping Trump’s presidential campaign, will hold the title of “Senior Adviser to the President” in a role that will have him working “closely” with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon to execute Trump’s agenda, the president-elect said in a statement.
“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. “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.”
Earlier the day, when asked what responsibilities he expects Kushner to assume in his administration, Trump told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower, “we’ll talk about that on Wednesday,” referring to his upcoming news conference in Manhattan.
Kushner said in a statement he was “energized by the shared passion of” his father-in-law “and the American people and I am humbled by the opportunity to join this very talented team.”
The 35-year-old served as a trusted adviser to Trump throughout the campaign, advising him on foreign relations matters and recruiting campaign staff and deep-pocketed donors to the real estate mogul’s first political campaign.
In recent weeks, Kushner had signaled a possible move to the West Wing — he and Ivanka purchased a $5.6 million, six-room home for the couple and their three children in the same Washington D.C. neighborhood that President Barack Obama and his family will move to upon leaving office.
Kushner, according to plans outlined by his attorneys to reporters, will step down from his role as CEO of Kushner Companies, his family’s real estate firm, and from his post as publisher of the New York Observer newspaper. He will also divest from other real estate holdings to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, his attorneys said in a conference call with national media outlets.
Federal anti-nepotism laws passed in 1967 bar public officials from employing or appointing relatives, including “in-laws,” to any agency in which the public official is serving in, or overseeing. But other presidents have turned to relatives to serve as top level advisers. Former President Bill Clinton had his wife, Hillary Clinton, lead the effort to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, though their effort ultimately failed.
Also Monday, Trump told reporters he was prepared to discuss at length his plans to avoid conflicts of interests between his business interests and new government job at his upcoming news conference. He said he had already started the process of separating himself from his business empire.
“We’ll talk about it on Wednesday,” Trump said. “All I can say is it’s very simple, very easy.”
Asked if he was concerned about Republicans pushing to repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan in place, Trump said: “Not even a little bit, that’s going to all work out.”
Trump also held a series of meetings at Trump Tower to discuss job creation, including meeting with French businessman Bernard Arnault, the owner of luxury fashion company LMVH, and with tech tycoon Jack Ma, the founder of sales website Alibaba.
“We’re focused on small business,” Ma told reporters after the meeting. “We specifically talked about . . . supporting 1 million small businesses, especially in the Midwest of America. Small businesses on the platform selling products — agriculture products and America services — to China and Asia, because we’re pretty big in Asia.”
Arnault told reporters he and Trump discussed expanding his company’s manufacturing factories in U.S. to cites in the Midwest, North Carolina and Texas.