Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have played key role in Donald Trump‘s successful presidential campaign, along with her brothers, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump. All four were also included on Donald Trump’s transition team, but none of them can serve in his administration in a paid role. It’s all thanks to a Federal Anti-Nepotism Law Congress passed in 1967.
Although the law is very clear that sons-in-law are considered “relatives” to the president, The New York Times reports that the Trump transition team is trying to find a way around it. The Times reports that he’s already played such an important part in the transition that the Obama Administration has to give foreign policy matters to Kushner before they go to Trump.
The transition team is so confident that it can get around the anti-nepotism law that Kushner will be named senior adviser to the president. ABC News reports that some legal analysts believe that the administration could argue that the White House isn’t a “federal agency.”
It’s believed that the law was passed as a reaction to President John F. Kennedy picking his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, to serve as his Attorney General. However, the law had more to do with postmasters hiring their families for jobs than the Kennedys.
Here’s a look at the law and why it was passed.
1. The Law Bars Federal Office-Holders From Hiring Their Family Members
As the name of the law makes clear, it bans federal officials in all three branches of the federal government from hiring a relative to be in the same branch of government. The law also covers the District of Columbia government.
“Relative” is defined as an:
Individual who is related to the public official as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.
Therefore, Kushner is covered under the law as Trump’s son-in-law.
2. John F. Kennedy & Robert F. Kennedy Weren’t the Real Reasons for the Act Getting Introduced
Since the law was passed in 1967, just four years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, there is an assumption that the law was passed in reaction to Kennedy picking his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general. However, the Kennedys were not Iowa Rep. Neal Smith’s target when he brought up the law. In fact, a Chicago Tribune report notes that Smith had been trying to get Congress to vote on the bill since 1961.
Smith’s bill was connected to legislation on the post office. The book Guide to Congress notes that Smith proposed the law as an amendment to a bill on the postal rate and federal pay bill. There was concern that postmasters were hiring their family members to be clerks. The book notes that the law does not prevent lawmakers from having a relative as an unpaid adviser, which might open the door for Kushner to have a part in the Trump administration.
In the article “Congressional Interference With The President’s Power to Appoint,” Richard P. Wilwick and Fran J. Macchiarola note that Smith even said in an interview that he was not targeting the Kennedys with the act.
3. Ivanka Said That She Doesn’t Plan to Have a Role in the Trump Administration
During Trump’s 60 Minutes interview, Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr. were asked if they plan on having a role in their father’s administration. They said they won’t and will instead run the Trump Organization.
“I’m going to be a daughter,” Ivanka told 60 Minutes. “I’ve said throughout the campaign that I am very passionate about certain issues. And that I want to fight for them.”
4. Trump Denied He Made Requests to Get His Children a Security Clearance
Ivanka might not want a role, but there have been signs that her husband might have some role as an adviser to Trump. On November 16, NBC News reported that Trump requested that Kushner receive a security clearance to sit in on briefings. Retired General Michael Flynn will also sit in on these briefings and already has security clearance. On November 17, the New York Times reported that Kushner has not applied for a security clearance and that he hasn’t sat in on security briefings.
Trump has denied on Twitter that he asked for security clearances for his children. However, he did not comment on Kushner.
Kushner has never held elective office and was not involved in politics before this year. He runs the Kushner real estate business and owns the New York Observer. His father, Charles Kushner, spent time in prison after pleading guilty to felony counts of submitting false campaign finance reports and tax returns.
Kushner is believed to have so mush sway within the Trump team that he was the reason why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is no longer on the transition team. Christie was the federal prosecutor who negotiated his father
5. Bill Clinton Couldn’t Serve in Hillary Clinton’s Cabinet if She Won
While Hillary Clinton was on the campaign trail, she was frequently asked what her husband, President Bill Clinton, would do in her administration. However, he would of course be covered by same law that bars the Trump children from working for their father in an official capacity.
Bill Clinton said on the campaign trail that he would have a role in helping Clinton shape her economic policy.
However, the Anti-Nepotism Law didn’t stop Bill Clinton from making Hillary the chair of his Health Reform Task Force, which proposed a health care plan in 1993 that never came to fruition.