President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with his family members in the White House who hold an unyielding power over him.
The Justice Department recently released several memos issued by past administrations that showed it is illegal for presidents to appoint relatives, even to unpaid posts, in the White House.
The memos were issued to White Houses run by former Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Barrack Obama. But Trump went out of his way to make his family enjoy the perks of his presidency. In January the memos were overruled by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Daniel Koffsky.
“You have asked for our opinion on the question whether the President could appoint Mrs. (Rosalynn) Carter to be Chairman of a Commission on Mental Health proposed to be established in a forthcoming Executive Order," wrote acting Assistant Attorney General John Harmon in a February 1977 memo to a lawyer in the Carter administration. "It is our opinion that he may not.”
Koffsky helped thwart similar protections in Trump's adminstration. The move made it possible for Trump’s son-in-law, now adviser, Jared Kushner to take a senior post in the White House without violating any anti-nepotism laws. The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, also became part of the administration but in an unpaid capacity.
“We believe that the president's special hiring authority [in the 1978 law] permits him to make appointments to the White House Office that the anti-nepotism statute might otherwise forbid,” Koffsky wrote.
In 2009, the law didn’t permit former President Barrack Obama to appoint his half-sister and brother-in-law to the White House.
Several ethics experts also criticized the move.
"We think the law is ambiguous and that the safer course would've been to ask Congress to resolve the ambiguity," former White House ethics lawyers Norman Eisen and Richard Painter said in a joint statement at the time.
However, Jamie Gorelick, Kushner’s lawyer, backed the law in January and said it was justified.
“We believed that we had the better argument on this. The Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department — in an opinion by a highly regarded career Deputy Assistant Attorney General — adopted a position consistent with our own,” he said.
First daughter Ivanka Trump received a lot criticism when she was given her own office on the second floor of West Wing. As her role didn’t come with a playbook, critics raised questions that could affect the accountability of the administration.
Trump has been criticized for not being able to fully separate himself from his business empire. This move raised further questions such as to what power does these family members have over his political decisions.
Few months ago, as absurd as it can get, Eric Trump said during an interview that the president of the United States launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian government air base because Ivanka Trump was upset.
He stated he was "sure" his sister Ivanka was “outraged” over the massacre of Syrian civilians, including children, at the hands of dictator Bashar al-Assad and she wielded her influence over their father to encourage him to launch military action against Syria.
The bizarre statement goes to show the commander-in-chief is under influence while taking crucial decisions — like for instance, bombing a country.
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