Jared Kushner's appointment to a White House office by father-in-law President Trump does not violate federal anti-nepotism laws, the Justice Department said in an opinion issued late Friday.
The agency’s Office of Legal Counsel issued the 14-page opinion in response to arguments that Kushner’s hiring appeared to violate a specific part of the U.S. code that forbids a public official from appointing a relative “to a civilian position in the agency.”
Justice attorneys said they concluded the section does not bar the appointment because the president’s special hiring authority in that section exempts positions in the White House office.
The lawyers said the section addresses only appointments to an “agency,” which includes Executive Branch agencies but not the White House.
They also cited the 1995 case Haddon v. Walters as a basis for their conclusion, while acknowledging it “lays out a different, but overlapping, route to the same result.”
The 35-year-old Kushner has said through a lawyer that he would step down as chief executive of the family business and divest some of his assets if he took a White House position, to comply with federal ethics laws.
Kushner, married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, was among the president’s most trusted and powerful campaign advisers.
The Harvard graduate also played a central role in the transition, taking part in Cabinet interviews and often getting a last word alone with Trump after a meeting concludes.
Trump has suggested since winning the White House race in November that he would like Kushner involved in helping with Middle East peace.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.