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President-elect’s son-in-law to take senior White House role




NEW YORK — President-elect Donald Trump’s influential son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will join the White House as a senior adviser and will work for free, according to two people briefed on the decision. He’s taking a broad role that could give him sway over both domestic and foreign policy.

The official announcement of Mr. Kushner's post is expected later this week.

Mr. Trump is facing a week of high-profile tests for his administration-in-waiting. He predicted Monday that all of his Cabinet picks would win Senate confirmation even as Democrats charged that Mr. Trump's team was ignoring standard vetting protocol.

“I think they’ll all pass,” Mr. Trump said of his would-be Cabinet, describing them as “all at the highest level” in between private meetings in his Manhattan sky rise.

One Trump pick official who won’t require Senate confirmation: son-in-law Mr. Kushner.

Mr. Kushner, who is married to Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, is taking the West Wing job despite an anti-nepotism law — which was passed after President John F. Kennedy appointed his 35-year-old brother, Robert, as attorney general — that bars officials from appointing relatives to government positions. Some aides to Mr. Trump have argued that the law does not apply to the White House, particularly staff.

And the possible precedent for that traces back to another famous political family: the Clintons.

When President Bill Clinton appointed his wife, Hillary, to head up his health-care efforts, the couple were sued. It wasn't that the filers wanted to nail the Clintons for nepotism, but given that she could not be an official government employee under the law, they argued that the meeting of her health-care task force should be open to the public.

The appeals court decision that resulted came in 1993 from D.C. Circuit Court Judge Laurence Silberman, and it says the court doubted “that Congress intended to include the White House or the Executive Office of the President” in the law.

But it’s untested in practical terms, and it’s also unclear whether a family member could take an unpaid position. And Mr. Kushner has long been huddling with lawyers to try to figure out a way around it, including possibly accepting no paycheck and putting his assets in a blind trust, as The New York Times reported in mid-November.

Shortly after Mr. Kushner’s appointment was described by people who asked not to be identified because the details haven’t been made public, New York Observer chief executive Joseph Meyer told staff that Mr. Kushner is stepping down as publisher and selling his stake in the newspaper.

Mr. Kushner’s lawyer has said he would step down as CEO of his family’s real estate business if he took a White House position and would divest some of his assets in order to comply with federal ethics laws that apply to government employees. The law requires Mr. Kushner to take more significant steps to detangle his business interests than Mr. Trump, given that conflict of interest laws largely do not apply to the president.

“Mr. Kushner is committed to complying with federal ethics laws and we have been consulting with the Office of Government Ethics regarding the steps he would take,” Jamie Gorelick, a partner at the law firm of WilmerHale, said in a statement Saturday, before Mr. Kushner’s role was finalized.

Mr. Kushner, 35, emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s most powerful campaign advisers during his father-in-law’s often unorthodox presidential bid. He was deeply involved in the campaign’s digital efforts and was usually at Mr. Trump’s side during the election’s closing weeks.

Since then, Mr. Kushner has continued to play a central role in the transition, taking part in Cabinet interviews and often getting a last word alone with Mr. Trump after a meeting concludes. Mr. Trump has invited him to listen to phone calls on another line, his presence sometimes not announced to the caller. And Mr. Trump has been known to call him late at night to review the day.

Like his father-in-law, Mr. Kushner pushed a mid-sized real estate company into the high-stakes battlefield of Manhattan. Though he is often viewed as more moderate than Mr. Trump, people close to him say he fully bought in to the Trump campaign’s fiery populist message that resonated with white working class voters. He never publicly distanced himself from Mr. Trump’s more provocative stances, including the candidate’s call for a Muslim-immigration ban and his doubts about President Barack Obama’s birthplace.

Prior to the campaign, Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump were not overtly political. Mr. Kushner’s father was a Democratic fundraiser while Ms. Trump, whose personal brand has a focus on young working mothers, counted Chelsea Clinton among her friends.

The Washington Post and Bloomberg News contributed.


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