The Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice has concluded that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner may work in the White House.
Critics charged that his appointment violated federal anti-nepotism laws, which preclude public officials from appointing a relative “to a civilian position in the agency . . . over which [the official] exercises jurisdiction or control.”
“In choosing his personal staff, the President enjoys an unusual degree of freedom, which Congress found suitable to the demands of his office,” the OLC finding reads. “Any appointment to that staff, however, carries with it a set of legal restrictions, by which Congress has regulated and fenced in the conduct of federal officials.”
The finding was written by deputy assistant attorney general Daniel Koffsky.
The Justice Department’s evaluation points to a 1995 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a powerful federal appeals court, which found that the White House should not be considered an “executive agency” within the meaning of the law. The court said that Title III of the U.S. Code refers to the White House and the Office of the President as entities distinct from federal agencies and departments. (RELATED: SNL Writer Smears Donald Trump’s 10-Year-Old Son)
This theory, the court reasoned, is further corroborated by the fact that Title III prescribes compensation and working conditions for White House employees, while Title V addresses the same issues for agency employees. This suggests Congress views federal agencies and the White House as birds of a different feather, as they are governed by separate laws.
OLC also concluded, as a practical matter, that federal law could not realistically enjoin the president from seeking counsel from members of his family on a recurring basis.
The finding added that all employees of the Office of the President are bound by federal conflict of interest laws. Kushner has resigned as CEO of his family’s real estate company and as publisher of the iconic New York Observer. His lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, says he will divest of substantial assets and will not take a salary.
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