Nothing about the Trump administration so far has been typical, not least of which is the apparent nepotism. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the President’s son-in-law and daughter, have significant and unprecedented roles in the administration. Federal law does include an anti-nepotism statute, but the Justice department concluded that the anti-nepotism law didn’t apply to White House staff. As Vox puts it, “it might be nepotism. But it’s not illegal nepotism.” Despite this, many are finding Jared and Ivanka’s roles to be ethically questionable.
Up until now, Ivanka did not have an official role in the Trump administration, although she has continued to maintain an active presence nonetheless. She has joined her father at many meetings with world leaders and important people from the business world. From day one, she was regularly seen in the West Wing and reportedly regularly weighed in on policy issues. She was also known for “dinner party diplomacy” outside of the White House. She’s even been filling in with some duties traditionally carried about by a First Lady, as Melania is remaining in New York for the time being. Her role in the administration has become more official of late, with Ivanka getting top-secret security clearance and an office in the West Wing. But now, in response to the questionable ethical situation, it has just been announced that Ivanka will soon become an official government employee, though she will not draw a salary. Her actual role is going to be listed as an “adviser,” and it’s clear she already has her father’s ear.
Jared has had a more official and major role in the administration from the beginning, as a senior adviser to President Trump. It was just announced that he is entirely in charge of an alarming number of major issues. Despite having no governing, policy or diplomatic experience, Kushner is in charge of trade, Middle East policy, reinventing the Veteran’s Administration, solving the opioid epidemic, and “modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency.” If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. And that’s not even all of what Trump has assigned Kushner. Despite the wealth of responsibilities on his plate, Kushner is reportedly not taking a salary.
Trump has remained mostly silent on the cries of nepotism other than early bragging that the law was on his side. Others are not so silent. Stephen Colbert joked that Jared’s next appointment would be to the “Bureau of Obvious Nepotism.” Many are calling out Ivanka and Jared’s roles as unethical and even dangerous. It’s certainly clear that the couple wield enormous power and that is making many Americans very uneasy.