Trump's son-in-law to become senior White House adviser

Mr Trump, with son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka, at a campaign event in New York last June. Mr Kushner, a New York real estate developer, will divest himself of his business assets to comply with conflict-of-interest rules, says his lawye
Mr Trump, with son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka, at a campaign event in New York last June. Mr Kushner, a New York real estate developer, will divest himself of his business assets to comply with conflict-of-interest rules, says his lawyer.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • US President-elect Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will become a senior White House adviser working on trade policy and the Middle East, transition officials have said, in a rare case of a close presidential family member taking on a major job.

Mr Kushner, 35, who is married to Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, is taking the post after receiving legal counsel that doing so would not violate US anti-nepotism law, the transition officials said on Monday.

The position, unlike Cabinet posts, does not require US Senate confirmation, and Mr Kushner will not be paid. In the past, Trump aides have drawn a distinction between Cabinet-level jobs and positions within the White House, suggesting that the latter carry more leeway for the president to appoint whoever he wants.

Mr Kushner, who played a central role in Mr Trump's campaign, will work with incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon, according to an announcement from the President-elect's transition team. Mr Trump, in a statement, called him a "tremendous asset and trusted adviser throughout the campaign and transition".

Mr Kushner will divest himself of his various business assets to comply with conflict-of-interest rules, his lawyer said. Senior transition officials and the lawyer laid out the arrangement in a conference call with a small group of reporters.

Like Mr Trump, Mr Kushner is a New York real estate developer. He emerged as an important voice early in his father-in-law's presidential campaign and was involved in almost every aspect of it, from personnel decisions to strategy and fund-raising.

US media reported yesterday that Ms Trump, who like her husband has been a close adviser to the President-elect, will step down from the Trump Organisation and her own label, suggesting that this is an effort to comply with ethics laws. Ms Trump is vice-president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organisation, and set up her own company selling clothes, shoes and jewellery.

She came under fire shortly after the election, when her company used her appearance in a family television interview to market a US$10,000 (S$14,300) gold bracelet that she wore during the segment.

The couple are planning to move from New York to Washington and are reportedly snapping up a new home in an upscale suburb, but Ms Trump is not expected to take on a formal job at the moment and will instead focus on settling her family in Washington, according to US media.

Mr Kushner and his wife will undertake significant divestments of their wide-ranging financial portfolios as they prepare for their move to Washington and face inevitable questions about a potential conflict of interest.

The couple's moves to break their business ties will compound pressure on the President-elect to do the same. He is set to give his first news conference since the election today, at which he is expected to lay out his own plans for the family business during his tenure at the White House.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Trump's son-in-law to become senior White House adviser'. Print Edition | Subscribe