All in the Family?
If you’re like me, you may be wondering about how Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump--- now fixtures in the White House and at The Donald’s right hand --- can be allowed to do that. What about that “nepotism” law (I won’t even pursue the ethics and conflicts of interest questions that are raised by all this)? I thought that U.S. Code § 3110 - Employment of relatives; restrictions, a Federal law, prevented this type of appointment. The Code 3110 states the following:
A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official. An individual may not be appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in or to a civilian position in an agency if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement has been advocated by a public official, serving in or exercising jurisdiction or control over the agency, who is a relative of the individual. (from Cornell U. Law School, bold mine)
The code goes on to list all the possible relatives one may not appoint and, yes, it does include “daughter,” and “son-in-law.” How, then, is it okay for Trump to appoint Jared and Ivanka?
Well, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Daniel Koffsky, asked to review the appointments, magically ruled otherwise. Here’s what he claimed:
the law that appropriates funding for White House staff also gives the president special authorities to name his own employees, including family members. He (Koffsky) wrote that past opinions that had said otherwise, including a 1977 finding that the White House could not employ the president’s son as an unpaid assistant, had invoked a flawed reading of the anti-nepotism law’s legislative history and failed to take into account special authorities afforded to the president elsewhere in the law. (Washington Post Jan. 21, 2017)
"A President wanting a relative's advice on governmental matters therefore has a choice: to seek that advice on an unofficial, ad hoc basis without conferring the status and imposing the responsibilities that accompany formal White House positions; or to appoint his relative to the White House under title 3 and subject him to substantial restrictions against conflicts of interest," Koffsky wrote. (NPR)
So, that’s the way the Trumps have dodged United States law to ensure the Grabber-in-Chief is surrounded by family --- by those he knows are loyal to him --- a "flawed reading" of the law. Really? As we have seen in the aftermath of the HealthCare debacle (and Trump’s withering attacks on the Freedom Caucus) loyalty to the Chief is the most valuable attribute in this administration.
Trump, of course, has a “second” family surrounding him in the White House --- the Goldman Sachs crew. The Drainer-in-Chief, in total contradiction of all his campaign rhetoric (there’s a shock right?), has appointed no fewer than SIX (6) Goldman Sachs alums as advisors --- most notably, of course, being the “Steves” – Bannon and Mnuchin, who will now head up the “tax code reform” effort. Aside from the Goldman crew, the Donald has also appointed Morgan Stanley and Black Rock (hedge fund) execs as “advisors.” And yesterday we learned that Carl Icahn, a fellow billionaire (although we believe Icahn actually is a billionaire), has been put in charge of undoing “regulations” --- including a crucial rule about ethanol restriction which, when changed (and Icahn is in the process of doing this right now!) will save Icahn’s CVR Energy investment $205.9 million (CVR stock prices soared after Trump’s election in November). Icahn in charge of dismantling regulatory agencies is a genuine case of putting the wolf in the henhouse and clearly violates all kinds of ethics laws!
Yet the House and Senate Committees in charge of oversight are clearly looking the other way as this President fills the White House with family, appointing corporate shills to important Cabinet and Advisory posts and is already overseeing the fleecing of America. As the Russian-connection investigation proceeds we may get a peek into the surface layer of the corruption that permeates this administration. If Republican members of the Senate (I’m talking to you, McCain, Graham, and Alexander!) have the integrity and true patriotic impulses they claim to believe in, maybe we will see some legitimate investigation into these American Romanovs before they overstuff their own pockets at the expense of all the hard working citizens of this country --- including all those poor suckers who actually voted for Trump.