Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump and one of his closest confidants, will join the White House as a senior adviser to the president, Trump announced Monday, while a lawyer assisting the family said that Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, will not immediately take on a formal role.
Kushner, who will not take a salary, is expected to have a broad portfolio that includes government operations, trade deals and Middle East policy, according to a member of Trump’s transition team. In a statement, the transition office said Kushner would work closely with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon to execute Trump’s agenda.
Trump relied heavily on Kushner’s advice during the campaign, and his move to the White House was expected. But ethics experts have raised questions about whether Kushner’s role in the new administration will run up against a federal anti-nepotism law and about how he will separate himself from his real estate business to avoid conflicts of interest.
Kushner’s attorney, WilmerHale partner Jamie Gorelick, said in an interview Monday that Kushner is prepared to resign from his business and divest substantial assets, including foreign investments, before taking a White House position. But Gorelick, who served as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, said she is confident that the anti-nepotism statute does not cover Trump’s appointment of Kushner, though she acknowledged that some lawyers take the opposite view.
Ivanka Trump plans to resign from the Trump Organization and step away from her clothing company but will focus — at least in the short term — on settling the family into its new home in Washington, a lawyer working with the family said.
Kushner, 35, has run his family’s multibillion-dollar business over the past decade, after his father pleaded guilty to corruption-related charges.
As Donald Trump campaigned for president, Kushner played a key role, acting as an adviser and gatekeeper. Kushner, whose family has donated to causes in Israel, including West Bank settlements that have been branded illegal by the United Nations, also played a role as a Middle East policy adviser.
“Jared has been a tremendous asset and trusted adviser 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.
Some ethics experts question whether a Kushner’s appointment would violate the 1967 federal anti-nepotism statute, which came about after President John F. Kennedy named his brother as attorney general. It forbids public officials from hiring family members in agencies or offices they oversee, and explicitly lists sons-in-law as prohibited employees.
Kushner has a web of business interests, focused heavily on real estate development.