Politics

Trump Might Appoint Ivanka Using Anti-Nepotism Loophole

| by Robert Fowler

Kellyanne Conway, a top political adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, has revealed that their transition team has identified a potential loophole in the federal anti-nepotism statute that would allow for the business mogul to install his children in the White House.

Conway signaled that Trump would like to find roles in his administration for his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

On Dec. 15, Conway addressed that the anti-nepotism statute that observers believed would bar both Ivanka and Kushner from working in the White House during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"The anti-nepotism law apparently has an exception if you want to work in the West Wing because the president is able to appoint his own staff," Conway said. "The president does have discretion to choose a staff of his liking. And so, if that actually is true and that legal advice holds, then that will open up a realm of possibilities."

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Host Joe Scarborough queried if both Ivanka and Kushner were the two family members that the president-elect most wanted to install in his administration.

"I think that's a fair assessment," Conway responded. The Trump political adviser added that she believes Ivanka is "very committed to women in the workplace … and she's in a position where she can actually leverage that and make a difference for women in the economy."

In 1967, Congress passed the anti-nepotism statute in response to their discomfort over former President John F. Kennedy's nomination of his brother, Robert Kennedy, as U.S. Attorney General, according to NPR.

The statute stipulates that public officials "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."

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Ironically, the loophole that Conway was referring to may have been established in 1993, when former President Bill Clinton appointed First Lady Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee of 2016, to head a health care task force, Time reported.

Hillary's appointment was challenged by a lobbyist group, but U.S. District Judge Laurence Silberman wrote that FLOTUS could serve on the task force because "a president would be barred from appointing his brother as attorney general, but perhaps not as a White House special assistant."

On Dec. 12, Trump ignited speculation that he was aiming to find a role for Ivanka in his administration when he tweeted out his plans to turn over his businesses to his sons Eric and Donald Jr., pointedly omitting his daughter, according to Talking Points Memo.

On Dec. 14, a member of the Trump transition team suggested that Ivanka would be installed in the office space that is traditionally occupied by FLOTUS.

The potential appointments of Ivanka and Kushner has drawn criticism from ethics watchdog groups. Executive director Noah Bookbinder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington believes that just because the president-elect can find a way around the anti-nepotism law doesn't mean he should.

"There are a lot of people who have real qualifications, experience and expertise who can be and hopefully will be advisors to the president," Bookbinder said. "But if he's ignoring them in favor of people he trusts more because they're family, that's a problem in terms of him making the best decisions for the American people."

Sources: MSNBC via YouTube, NPRTalking Points Memo, Time / Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group/Flickr

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