Ivanka Trump’s new West Wing post doesn’t only bring more financial conflicts of interest into the White House; because she’s the president’s daughter, it also makes them worse. The inherently compromising loyalty of family relationships and the necessity of genuine expertise in senior government roles are why federal law prohibits nepotism — and why that law explicitly applies to the president. Trump appeared to recognize this when he repeatedly reassured the public that his children would not have any role in the government.
The about-face of the January opinion may be legally defensible; it rests on a conflicting statute that grants broad presidential authority to staff the White House “without regard to any other provision of law.” But the issue here isn’t one of legal technicalities. OLC’s job is to offer counsel on bare legality stripped of policy prescription. We can’t expect it or the statutes it interprets to substitute for an administration with sound judgment.
The issues of legality and ethics reduce down to this: Ivanka Trump’s role in the administration is possibly, though not certainly, legal under federal anti-nepotism law. It is wrong as a matter of ethics, though, and it violates the tenets of good governance. And her undisclosed financial entanglements raise the specter of decision making based on individual or financial gain, rather than in the national interest.
You can read the rest at the Washington Post.