Washington, Feb 20: The Trump administration has struggled with ethics vetting for Cabinet nominees and faced criticism for the President’s decision to remain invested in his business empire, while his son-in-law Jared Kushner will enter the White House by the law. According to NBC News, new emails showed Kushner’s lawyers working on a divestment plan to avoid conflicts by conferring with the Office of Government Ethics. That is the same office that Trump aides iced out during the transition period and that has clashed with the President over his decision not to divest from the Trump Organisation.
The emails indicate a flurry of preparation in late December and January — before Kushner was appointed senior White House adviser and while questions still swirled about whether a federal anti-nepotism law would bar him from serving. Kushner’s lawyers, including former Clinton administration official Jamie Gorelick, consulted the Ethics Office on how to create a “conservative” and “workable” approach to minimise potential conflicts.
His team also warned the Ethics Office about a New York Times report on Kushner’s meeting with Chinese investors after the election, proposing their ethics plan would “mitigate sources of conflict”.
Walter Shaub, the Ethics Office Director who publicly criticised Trump and drew the ire of house Republicans, was heartened by the plans submitted by Kushner’s team.
It is a marked contrast from his dealings with the Trump transition team about Cabinet nominees, where emails show him lamenting that communication had “broken down” and the transition team’s neglect of ethics vetting was “unprecedented”. With Kushner, the Ethics Office was engaged, collaborating on statements to the press, reviewing paperwork showing his “100 per cent divestment” from several businesses, and providing extra advice beyond the letter of the law.
“Ethics issues arise unexpectedly,” Shaub told Kushner’s team. “And they don’t come with the label ‘Caution! I’m an ethics issue’.” (IANS)