WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump named his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner as a senior adviser in the upcoming administration.
The Trump team confirmed the appointment Monday, and in a press release said Kusher would work closely with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon “to execute President-elect Trump’s agenda,” as “an effective leadership team.”
“Jared has been a tremendous asset and trusted adviser throughout the campaign and transition and I am proud to have him in a key leadership role in my administration,” Trump said, calling him “instrumental in formulating and executing the strategy” behind his election victory.
“He has been incredibly successful, in both business and now politics. He will be an invaluable member of my team as I set and execute an ambitious agenda, putting the American people first,” he added.
Kushner, who will forego a salary while serving in the administration, intends to focus on Middle East affairs and trade deals.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, said she will not take any formal role in the administration.
Former Politico reporter Mike Allen first reported in his debut Axios AM email newsletter that lawyers have devised a plan for Kushner to work around anti-nepotism laws that were established in 1967 after former president John F. Kennedy named his brother, Robert Kennedy, as attorney general.
The law prohibits presidents from hiring relatives to Cabinet or agency positions, although a judge once ruled that the statute does not apply to White House staff jobs. In the past, presidents have generally not sought to hire family members for official posts, leaving the law relatively untested.
A ruling in federal court on the matter was issued, however, when former president Bill Clinton appointed his wife Hillary Clinton to lead a health care task force in 1993.
Kushner has already undertaken the process of hiring a staff to work under him in the West Wing, the Axios report said.
Last week, he and Ivanka purchased a six-bedroom home in the upscale Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, DC, a sign of their plans to be part of the incoming administration.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Kushner, who will turn 36 on Tuesday, has been pursuing a real estate deal with a company that has close ties to the Chinese government while also advising the president-elect.
Kushner has been handling negotiations with the Anbang Insurance Group over a project to rebuild a skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, a property owned by the Kushner family’s real estate company, according to the Times.
Following these revelations, Kushner’s lawyer released a statement over the weekend that he is preparing to step down as CEO of Kushner Companies.
While specifying that no plans were final, attorney Jamie Gorelick, a partner at the law firm WilmerHale, said Kushner “is committed to complying with federal ethics laws.”
He would “divest substantial assets” and “recuse from particular matters that would have a direct and predictable effect on his remaining financial interests,” she added.
Since winning the presidential election, Trump has suggested Kushner could be deployed as an envoy for Middle East peace. Asked about the subject during a November interview with The Times, the incoming president said his son-in-law would be “very good at it.”
“I mean he knows it so well. He knows the region, knows the people, knows the players,” he added.
Kushner, who had no previous governmental or campaign experience, played a pivotal role in Trump’s bid for the White House, advising the candidate on a myriad of issues, including his selection of a running mate. He also reportedly crafted his speech to last year’s AIPAC Policy Conference.
He has since remained a trusted adviser during the transition, helping his father-in-law choose his nominees for all his cabinet posts — and he was reportedly an advocate for selecting former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state.