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Ivanka Trump to become White House employee instead of informal adviser

Presidents daughter decides to assume official role as unpaid government employee in attempt to mitigate ethical controversy over administration position

Following criticism from ethics experts, Ivanka Trump will become an official government employee, working as an unpaid adviser to her father in the White House, alongside her husband.

Last week the presidents daughter came under fire after announcing she would become an adviser without a specific title, but with an office in the West Wing, a government-issued phone and computer and security clearance to access classified information.

While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees, she said at the time.

Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who served as chief ethics lawyer for George W Bush between 2005 and 2007 and has frequently spoken out about the Trump familys various ethical controversies, told the Guardian: She has a West Wing office, she has equipment, she has a White House email address, shes going to be doing policy work. For purposes of the conflict of interest statute, I believe she is a government employee.

Now Ivanka Trump has responded to such criticism by taking on a formal role.

She said in a statement: I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees.

Her lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, told the New York Times, which first reported the news, that Trump had changed her mind because of her commitment to compliance with federal ethics standards and her openness to opposing points of view.

The Times quoted a spokeswoman for Donald Trump as saying: Ivankas service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency and compliance and affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously.

Painter told the Guardian on Wednesday: I think she made the right decision because her lawyers told her what Ive been saying all along … that she is a government employee.

He added: And I think she understands that and I think she told the White House, Stop screwing around and playing games and let her be an employee.

Referring to conflict of interest statutes, he said: Im glad they sorted this out, because the last thing we need is the presidents daughter committing a crime that could be a felony.

The role of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, another of Donald Trumps informal advisers, needed to be similarly formalised, Painter said.

Several attorneys and government watchdog leaders last week wrote a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn asking him to reconsider his approval of Ivanka Trump serving her father without becoming an official government employee.

Norman Eisen, who was Barack Obamas ethics counselor, was among those who signed the letter. He said that for a change in what has largely been an ethics disaster, the White House came to their senses. Lets hope it doesnt turn out to be an isolated moment of sanity.

Fred Wertheimer, president of the government watchdog group Democracy 21 and a co-writer of the letter to McGahn, said he commended Ivanka Trump for formalizing her status. Democracy 21 praises Ms Trump for her decision, which recognizes that it would have been wrong for her to function as a White House employee and not be subject to the same rules that apply to other White House employees, he said in a statement.

There is no precedent for someone whose father is president to work in the White House, although two presidents Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan had their nieces serve in the role of first lady since Jackson was a widower and Buchanan a bachelor.

Ivanka Trump has handed control over the day-to-day running of her eponymous clothing business to an executive and its assets are maintained by a trust managed by two of her husbands siblings.

As part of the trust rules, outlined in the New York Times, Trump can veto any potential business deals for her clothing company that might create a conflict with her political work meaning she will continue to know about any new deals.

Trumps marriage to her fathers senior adviser, the real estate developer Jared Kushner, poses additional potential problems, because both could benefit financially from each others businesses.

Kushner was appointed to an additional role this week at the helm of Donald Trumps White House Office of American Innovation, which is designed to overhaul the federal government with input from the private sector.

The same day it was revealed that Kushner would testify before a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in last years election. Kushners offer to appear before the Senate panel stems from his meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US whose contacts with former national security adviser Michael Flynn led to the latters resignation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/29/ivanka-trump-white-house-government-employee-ethics


As Jared Kushner ascends White House ladder, Senate Russia inquiry adds scrutiny

Trumps son-in-law will lead Office of American Innovation to privatize certain government functions, as he agrees to testify in Russia election investigation

Jared Kushner, Donald Trumps son-in-law and senior adviser, found himself back in the spotlight for better and for worse on Monday.

As the US president appointed him to a new White House role, it was revealed that Kushner would testify before a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in last years election.

With Kushner at its helm, Trumps White House Office of American Innovation is designed to overhaul the federal government with input from the private sector, it was announced on Monday. The venture, which will bring together a team of former executives to privatize certain government functions, will follow through on the presidents business-minded approach to running the country.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/27/jared-kushner-white-house-office-trump-russia


Ivanka Trump’s expanded White House role raises ethical issues

With a West Wing office but no specific title and no precedent for adult children whose father is president the rules Trump is subject to are under dispute

After months of attending meetings of world leaders and visiting factories with her father, the role of first daughter Ivanka Trump is officially expanding creating new ethical issues for an administration that has been heavily criticized over its potential conflicts of interest.

She will not have a specific title, but Trump will have an office in the West Wing, a government-issued phone and computer and security clearance to access classified information, and she will advise her father.

While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees, she told Politico in a statement.

But following the ethics guidelines should not be voluntary, said Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who served as chief ethics lawyer for George W Bush between 2005 and 2007.

Given what shes going to do, I dont think she has any choice, he said. She has a West Wing office, she has equipment, she has a White House email address, shes going to be doing policy work, said Painter.

For purposes of the conflict of interest statute, I believe she is a government employee, he added.

Ivanka Trumps lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, argues that since she will earn no salary and not be sworn in, she does not count as a government employee. There is no precedent for adult children whose father is president working in the White House, although two presidents Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan had their nieces serve in the role of first lady since Jackson was a widower and Buchanan a bachelor.

Trump has handed control over the day-to-day running of her eponymous clothing business to an executive and its assets are maintained by a trust managed by two of her husbands siblings.

As part of the trust rules, outlined in the New York Times, Trump can veto any potential business deals for her clothing company that might create a conflict with her political work.

That means, points out Painter, that Trump has to know about any new deal that might put her at risk of breaking the statute, meaning she can be held responsible.

Shes got accountability on that stuff. She cant just blame the trustee, he said.

Trumps marriage to her fathers senior adviser, the real estate developer Jared Kushner, poses additional potential problems, because both could benefit financially from each others businesses.

Painter warned that the pair should avoid official political discussions involved with trade agreements regarding textiles, real estate and even bank deregulation, since that can affect real estate.

That means if the premier of China visits the White House most of Ivanka Trumps clothing line is made in China and Hong Kong it is fine for her to attend the meeting, but she should not mention trade and if the discussion begins to focus on trade, she should excuse herself, says Painter.

The ethics expert noted approvingly that Ivanka Trump engaged Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, the same legal services used by the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, former head of ExxonMobil, to handle issues of conflict of interest. Kushner also used the DC-based lawyers to manage his potential conflicts of interest with his family business after taking the role of adviser in the Trump administration.

Its a criminal statute, so people better not mess up under it. But I think shell do the right thing, said Painter.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/21/ivanka-trump-white-house-office-administration-role-ethics


The new first family: what you need to know about the Trumps

Here are the essential things to know about the Trumps, with notes on the roles each family member may play in the administration

As soon as Donald Trump takes the oath of office, the Obama family is scheduled to board a helicopter for the airport and a California holiday. A new first family will have taken their place. Heres a bit about the Trumps, with notes on the roles each family member may play in the administration.

Melania
Melania Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Melania Trump, 46

Wife of Donald. Born Melanija Knavs in Slovenia in eastern Europe, she was sufficiently successful as a model that she sometimes worked under only her first name, and toiled as an undocumented immigrant in the United States before landing a work visa in 1997, according to an Associated Press investigation. She met her future husband at a Fashion Week party in New York City. The couple will celebrate their 12th anniversary on 22 January, two days after he becomes president. She has said that as first lady she would like to be very traditional like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy. She also plans to combat online bullying and harassment. She will remain in New York City through the end of the school year with her son with Trump, Barron, 10, and is expected to play a minimal role in the administration.

Donald Trump Jr, 39

Donald
Donald Trump Jr arrives at Trump Tower in New York Wednesday. Photograph: Albin Lohr-Jones/EPA

Donald Trumps eldest son, he is himself a father of five, with his wife, Vanessa Kay Haydon, a former model. A reality TV star (The Apprentice) like his father, he has been tapped to head the Trump Organization the family business empire with his brother, Eric, aided by a longtime company executive. Trump Jr is not expected to have a role in his fathers administration; indeed, his new position as co-head of the Trump Organization would seem to preclude, under ethics rules and traditions, his speaking with his father about the business and his hearing from his father about government. Trump Jr drew ire during the campaign for agreeing to an interview with a prominent white nationalist and for comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles. He is a big-game hunter and self-described boob guy.

Eric Trump, 33

Eric
Eric Trump arrives at Trump Tower Wednesday. Photograph: Albin Lohr-Jones/EPA

Trumps second-oldest son, he has also appeared on The Apprentice and is married to Lara Trump, ne Yunaska, a fitness trainer and TV producer. With his brother, Don Jr, Eric is to lead the Trump Organization, and is due to have no role in the Trump administration. He runs a charitable foundation to fight childhood cancer, but claims he has made about his father personally donating large sums to the foundation, like many Trump family claims about charitable giving, could not be verified. Like his brother, he is a big-game hunter.

Ivanka Trump, 35

Ivanka
Ivanka Trump on the last day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Trumps eldest daughter, and like Don Jr and Eric the daughter of her fathers first wife Ivana, a Czech-born former fashion model. Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism to marry businessman Jared Kushner, with whom she has three children. She is a fashion executive and like her brothers has appeared on The Apprentice. As an executive with the Trump organization, she managed projects including the recently opened Trump hotel in the Old Post Office building in downtown Washington DC, but she has said she will divest from the family company, owing to her husbands role in the Trump administration. The nature of her divestment is not clear; it has been described by Trump transition officials as converting her equity into fixed payments. Ivanka Trump has rebutted speculation that she would act as a de facto first lady. I think its an inappropriate observation, she told ABC News. There is one first lady, and shell do remarkable things.

Jared Kushner, 36

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/20/trump-first-family-politics-roles


Donald Trump mistakes Ivanka from Brighton for his daughter

President-elect mistakenly retweets praise for a Brighton council worker with the same first name as his daughter, leading to Twitter storm

A woman from Brighton is waking up to chaos on Twitter after having been singled out by Donald Trump as his daughter.

The president-elect quoted a praiseworthy tweet directed to him by Lawrence Goodstein, a Twitter user in Seekonk in Massachusetts, that described his daughter Ivanka as a woman with real character and class late on Monday.

But Goodstein had mistakenly put @Ivanka, not @IvankaTrump not a significant mistake in light of Goodsteins 160-odd followers; of far greater consequence circulated by Trump to his 20.1m.

So Trumps shout-out was instead directed to Ivanka Majic, a council worker from Brighton, England, with just over 2,800 followers.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

@drgoodspine: @realDonaldTrump @Ivanka Trump is great, a woman with real character and class.”

January 17, 2017

Ivanka Majic from Brighton, England, is a wonderful woman. Youre right, replied Mark Pygas, a writer for Distractify, to Trump and Goodstein. RIP her mentions though.

I mean, shes probably trying to sleep and her phone is going off the hook but its a hell of a story. (According to a subsequent screenshot tweeted by Pygas, Goodstein blocked him for pointing out the error and made his account private.)

Mark Pygas (@MarkPygas)

@realDonaldTrump @drgoodspine @ivanka Ivanka Majic from Brighton, England, is a wonderful woman. You’re right. RIP her mentions though. pic.twitter.com/FH4f2KMOQU

January 17, 2017

Trump had not deleted his tweet nor acknowledged his mistake at time of writing, though Goodstein made his account private.

It had been retweeted 2,800 times and favourited 15,000 times, with more than 4,600 replies the vast majority of them including Majic.

The Guardian has attempted to contact Majic, believed to be employed as a researcher at the Brighton and Hove City Council.

Her profile suggests she is not as active a user of Twitter as the president-elect, with just six tweets most of them retweets in the past week.

Her last activity on Twitter was a retweet encouraging votes in Brightons upcoming restaurant competition and another publicising another residents appeal for return of her lost house keys.

On Saturday Majic had tweeted a link to a news story in The Argus about Brightons thriving food scene: Made the local paper. Fame at last!

Ivanka Majic (@ivanka)

Made the local paper. Fame at last! https://t.co/qs9M61IlEc @bravofoodawards @XDBPhotography @edofcopy @prykey24 @EatBrighton

January 13, 2017

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump seemed oblivious to the compliment paid to her by the Twitter user Goodstein and co-signed by her father, sharing a photo of #datenight with her 2.74m followers.

Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump)

bright lights, big city #datenight pic.twitter.com/XclaOxvus4

January 17, 2017

Ivanka Trump had been the subject of a special report that broadcast on CNN on Monday night that her father had expressed concerns about.

At 9:00 P.M. @CNN, of all places, is doing a Special Report on my daughter, Ivanka. Considering it is CNN, cant imagine it will be great!

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

At 9:00 P.M. @CNN, of all places, is doing a Special Report on my daughter, Ivanka. Considering it is CNN, can’t imagine it will be great!

January 17, 2017

As president, Donald Trump will have the option of taking over the official @POTUS handle or maintaining his own, @realDonaldTrump. With 20.1m followers hanging on his every missive compared to @POTUSs 13.5m, Trump himself has given no indication he will make the switch.

Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary, told CNN earlier in January that Trump would probably be tweeting from both, or whatever he chooses.

Last week BuzzFeed News publicised concerns that Trumps shockingly insecure personal Twitter account had no known special security protections and was open to being exploited with potentially devastating impacts for the stock market and geopolitical stability.

It would not be the first time Trumps account has been hacked before: in 2013, when he was best-known as a real estate tycoon and host of The Apprentice, someone reportedly gained access to his account to tweet Lil Wayne lyrics (These hoes think they classy, well thats the class Im skippen, from the remix of will.i.am and Britney Spears Scream & Shout).

My Twitter has been seriously hacked— and we are looking for the perpetrators, said Trump at the time.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

My Twitter has been seriously hacked— and we are looking for the perpetrators.

February 21, 2013

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/17/donald-trump-mistakes-ivanka-from-brighton-for-his-daughter


Trump names son-in-law Jared Kushner as senior adviser, testing nepotism law

Kushner, who had Trumps ear in an informal role during the election, will need to argue a federal anti-nepotism law does not apply to him

Donald Trumps son-in-law Jared Kushnerwas named senior adviser to the president on Monday, an appointment that would further entangle the incoming White House team in a web of potential conflicts of interest and accusations of nepotism.

For months, Kushner has had Trumps ear in an informal role alongside the businessmans three grown children: Donald Jr, Eric and Kushners wife, Ivanka.In a statement, Trumps transition team said that Kushner had formed an effective leadership team with the president-elects chosen chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Kushner, 35, will need to argue that a federal anti-nepotism law does not apply to him. The law, enacted in 1967 after John F Kennedy appointed his brother as attorney general, prohibits any federal official from hiring family members to an agency or office which he or she leads.

The law has loopholes, however. Ethics experts say that Kushner could retain a technically unofficial role, for instance as a consultant, in order to skirt the law. Trumps transition team said Kushner has chosen to forego his salary while serving in the administration.

Attorneys for Kushner reportedly want to argue that the White House is technically not an agency, and that therefore Trump and Kushner would be exempt from nepotism rules. Trumps transition team has argued that this loophole would also make Trump exempt from his own possible conflicts of interest.

WilmerHale, a law firm contracted by Kushner, has said in a statement that he is committed to complying with federal ethics laws and has coordinated with the Office of Government Ethics.

Trump could also try to argue that he has wide authority to select his advisers, using Hillary Clintons work in the White House in the 1990s as a precedent. At the time, an appeals court ruled that Clinton could work in government because she already held an official title, first lady.

More traditional conflicts of interest also appear strewn across Kushners path to the White House. More so than his father-in-law, who has for years turned away from real estate in favor of branding deals, Kushner is a major figure in New York real estate, the scion of an extraordinarily wealthy family with business interests around the world.

Kushner Companies has invested billions in real estate around the US in the last decade, and relies heavily on foreign investment and lenders.

Experts have said that even should Kushner place holdings in a blind trust, he would still test ethics laws. Kushner will be required to make some financial disclosures, and would continuously test the limits of the law in the White House.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/09/jared-kushner-senior-adviser-donald-trump


How did less than stellar high school student Jared Kushner get into Harvard? | Daniel Golden

Donald Trumps son-in-law was accepted into the Ivy League university in the wake of a $2.5m pledge made by his parents

I would like to express my gratitude to Jared Kushner for reviving interest in my 2006 book, The Price of Admission. I have never met or spoken with him, and its rare in this life to find such a selfless benefactor. Of course, I doubt he became Donald Trumps son-in-law and consigliere merely to boost my lagging sales, but still, Im thankful.

My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their underachieving childrens way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5m to Harvard University not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school, which at the time accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of 20.)

I also quoted administrators at Jareds high school, who described him as a less-than-stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvards decision.

There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard, a former official at the Frisch school in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. His GPA [grade point average] did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.

Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said in an email on Thursday that the allegation that Charles Kushners gift to Harvard was related to Jareds admission is and always has been false. His parents, Charles and Seryl Kushner, are enormously generous and have donated over $100m to universities, hospitals and other charitable causes. Jared Kushner was an excellent student in high school and graduated from Harvard with honours. (About 90% of Jareds 2003 class at Harvard also graduated with honours.)

My Kushner discoveries were an offshoot of my research for a chapter on Harvard donors. Somebody had slipped me a document I had long coveted: the membership list of Harvards Committee on University Resources. The university wooed more than 400 of its biggest givers and most promising prospects by putting them on this committee and inviting them to campus periodically to be wined, dined and subjected to lectures by eminent professors.

My idea was to figure out how many children of these corporate titans, oil barons, money managers, lawyers, high-tech consultants and old-money heirs had gone to Harvard. A disproportionate tally might suggest that the university eased its standards for the offspring of wealthy backers.

I began working through the list, poring over Whos Who in America and Harvard class reunion reports for family information. Charles and Seryl Kushner were both on the committee. I had never heard of them, but their joint presence struck me as a sign that Harvards fundraising machine held the couple in especially fond regard.

The clips showed that Charles Kushners empire encompassed 25,000 New Jersey apartments, along with extensive office, industrial and retail space and undeveloped land. Unlike most of his fellow committee members, though, Kushner was not a Harvard man. He had graduated from New York University. This eliminated the sentimental tug of the alma mater as a reason for him to give to Harvard, leaving another likely explanation: his children.

Sure enough, his sons Jared and Joshua had both enrolled there.

Charles Kushner differed from his peers on the committee in another way: he had a criminal record. Five years after Jared entered Harvard, the elder Kushner pleaded guilty in 2004 to tax violations, illegal campaign donations and retaliating against a witness. (As it happens, the prosecutor in the case was Chris Christie, recently ousted as the head of Trumps transition team.) Charles Kushner had hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, who was cooperating with federal authorities. Kushner then had a videotape of the tryst sent to his sister. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

I completed my analysis, which justified my hunch. Of the 400-plus tycoons on Harvards list which included people who were childless or too young to have college-age offspring more than half had sent at least one child to the university.

I also decided that the Kushner-Harvard relationship deserved special attention. Although the university often heralded big gifts in press releases or a bulletin called, in a classic example of fundraising wit, Re:sources, a search of these outlets came up empty. Harvard didnt seem eager to be publicly associated with Charles Kushner.

While looking into Kushners taxes, though, federal authorities had subpoenaed records of his charitable giving. I learned that in 1998, when Jared was attending the Frisch school and starting to look at colleges, his father had pledged $2.5m to Harvard, to be paid in annual instalments of $250,000. Charles Kushner also visited Neil Rudenstine, then Harvard president, and discussed funding a scholarship programme for low- and middle-income students.

I phoned a Harvard official, with whom I was on friendly terms. First I asked whether the gift played any role in Jareds admission. You know we dont comment on individual applicants, he said. When I pressed further, he hung up. We havent spoken since.

At Harvard, Jared Kushner majored in government. Now the 35-year-old is poised to become the power behind the presidency. What he plans to do, and in what direction he and his father-in-law will lead the country, are far more important than his high school grades.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/18/jared-kushner-harvard-donald-trump-son-in-law


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