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Trump son-in-law role needs review, Democrats say

bbc.com

Democrats have called for US President-elect Donald Trump’s naming of his son-in-law as a top adviser to be reviewed over concerns of nepotism and conflict of interest.

A group wants the Justice Department and Office of Government Ethics to scrutinise “legal issues” related to the appointment of Jared Kushner, 36.

His lawyer says the post does not breach anti-nepotism laws.

Mr Kushner is married to Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

He will step down as boss of his family’s real estate business and publisher of the New York Observer newspaper in order to comply with ethics laws, lawyer Jamie Gorelick said.

The influential Trump adviser will also divest “substantial assets”, she said.

In his new role as a senior White House adviser, Mr Kushner will initially focus on trade policy and the Middle East, according to officials from the transition team.

Earlier, Mr Trump hailed his son-in-law as a “tremendous asset” and he was proud to give him a “key leadership role” in the administration.

The New York businessman will be inaugurated as the 45th president on 20 January.

In their letter, the Democratic lawmakers, all members of the House Judiciary Committee, argue that a “strong case” can be made that a 1967 federal anti-nepotism statute applies to staff working in the White House, a position rejected by Mr Trump’s team.

They also raise questions about how, even with significant divestment, Mr Kushner could completely avoid conflicts of interest in his White House role.

“Moreover, Mr. Kushner’s White House position may allow him to influence policy that benefits his business interests,” they write.

Mr Kushner was committed to complying with federal ethics laws and had consulted with the Office of Government Ethics about what steps to take, Ms Gorelick said.

She added that he would not be paid for the advisory role.

No post for Ivanka

Ivanka Trump will step down from executive roles at the Trump Organization as well as her own fashion brands.

She will not be taking an official role in her father’s government and instead will focus on raising her children.

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