Ivanka Trump’s New White House Appointment: Nepotism Or Volunteer Work?

Ivanka Trump has just been appointed a role at the White House, and Donald Trump’s spokesperson says this isn’t nepotism but volunteer work.

Donald Trump has been walking such fine lines when it comes to conflict of interest—his false allegations against former President Obama and refusal to acknowledge cases of conflict of interest, for example. Last week, Donald Trump again toyed with another dangerous line as he appointed his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to a new position at the White House, which has many Trump critics crying conflict of interest and nepotism.

Ivanka Trump, now the new assistant to his father, President Donald Trump, has been under immense scrutiny after politics and ethics experts called the appointment a violation of federal nepotism laws, Independentreports.

The nepotism statute falls under 5 U.S. Code § 3110 and has been defined by the US House Committee on Ethics as “appointing, promoting, or recommending for appointment or promotion any ‘relative (individual who is related to the public official)’ of the official to any agency or department over which the official exercises authority or control.” This is the reason why a lot of ethics experts and critics are crying foul over Ivanka Trump’s appointment.

Donald Trump appoints daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner White House roles [Image b Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images]
Donald Trump appoints daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner White House roles [Image b Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images]

But of course, Donald Trump and his advisors will stand by his appointments, no matter how controversial they may be. In a CNNInterview with Jason Miller, the former spokesman for President Donald Trump’s campaign, Miller argues that Ivanka Trump’s appointment to Donald Trump’s staff is not, in any way, nepotism because she will not be paid.

“She’s working for free. She’s volunteering her time and effort for the good of the country. Everybody from the White House counsel to the (Department of Justice) has said that this doesn’t violate any sort of nepotism rules.”

Daniel Koffsky, deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel, also told CNN in January, regarding the previous appointment of Ivanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner, that that the US anti-nepotism law covers only appointments in an “executive” agency. Appointment to the White House, which isn’t, as defined by US law, an executive agency, is exempted from this case.

“In choosing his personal staff, the President enjoys an unusual degree of freedom, which Congress found suitable to the demands of his office.”

In fact, this same interpretation of the nepotism laws has led to Hillary Clinton’s appointment to her husband’s, President Bill Clinton’s, Task Force on National Health Care Reform in 1993.

Bill and Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton stands by her man amidst White House sex scandal. [Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]

But in response to the whether Ivanka Trump’s appointment falls under the violation of federal nepotism laws, former White House ethics czar Norman Eisen says on CNN’s “New Day” segment Thursday that the both of the previous administrations, Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s, interpreted the 1967 federal nepotism law to include White House appointments.

“For decades the Justice Department held ‘yes’ the nepotism statue applies to the White House. President Trump got an opinion from the Justice Department that the nepotism statute doesn’t apply to his White House. We don’t agree with that opinion.”

It has been pointed out byABC News, too, that the anti-nepotism laws were first passed in response to President John F. Kennedy’s appointment of his brother Robert as attorney general. In fact, this same law that the current Trump appointees are arguing doesn’t cover White House jurisdiction, has prevented former president Jimmy Carter from hiring his son as a White House intern during his administration.

Josh Chafetz, a professor at Cornell Law School and an expert in constitutional law and legislative procedure, tells ABC News as follows.

“The bigger issue for the administration is not so much about the technical bounds of these nepotism laws, but it just looks bad. I don’t think there’s anything legal that can be done in terms of the appointment. It just looks like there’s a pattern of cronyism that has emerged, especially in conjunction with the cabinet appointments.”

But whether Ivanka Trump’s and Jared Kushner’s appointment to the White House is accepted by the people and critics, it looks like the Trump administration will be getting away with it anyway. Ivanka Trumps says the following about her White House appointment in a statement (via the Telegraph).

Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner departing from the White House [Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
<> on February 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.

“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.

“Throughout this process, I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role.”

[Featured Image by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images]