Updated on January 9 at 5:27 p.m.
Jared Kushner is a man who has been in the right place—or more precisely, the right families—at the right time, and been willing and able to bend the rules to move forward.
In the latest instance of that pattern, President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly name Kushner a senior White House adviser, CNN and The New York Times report, placing his son-in-law in a top post but setting up a potential showdown over the reach of federal nepotism laws. That would end weeks of speculation that Kushner would receive a top job at the White House, and it would represent a continuation of his role on the Trump presidential campaign, where Kushner gradually grew in influence, ultimately becoming one of his father-in-law’s closest aides. Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife, will take a formal role in the administration, CNBC reports.
As soon as rumors of a Kushner appointment bubbled up, ethics experts objected, saying his playing a role in the White House would fall afoul of rules instituted in 1967, partly in response to John F. Kennedy naming his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general. But there are ways around the law. The statute specifies:
A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.
The law defines agency as “an Executive agency,” “an office, agency, or other establishment in the legislative branch,” “an office, agency, or other establishment in the judicial branch,” or “the government of the District of Columbia,” and it’s the meaning of those definitions on which Kushner’s eligibility for his new job hinges.