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President Trump is Legally Barred from Appointing His Family Members


shutterstock_512594833Over the last few days, there has been a lot talk about whether Donald Trump will name his sons, daughters, or son-in-law Jared Kushner to a top position in the White House. Last week, Trump did tap Jared, Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric to be part of the transition team. But what about the White House? CBS News’ Lesley Stahl stoked the speculation when she asked whether “any of you want a job in your father’s administration?”

Only problem? Trump is actually legally barred from appointing family members to an official position. That’s all because of a federal law passed in 1967.

The law is pretty clear:

(b) 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.

Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, would also be barred, as the law specifically defines that “son-in-law” is a relative. Despite this statute, the mainstream media continues to hype up speculation that one of the Trump family members could be appointed.  The law was originally passed after President Kennedy appointed his younger brother to attorney general.

Eric Trump was specifically asked about whether he would take a position in the White House on ’60 Minutes’:

Eric Trump: So we have an amazing company. You know, one of, I think, the fortunate things for my father and our father is that he was able to step out of the company to run for commander-in-chief. And I think he’s going to rely on us more than ever. And–

Lesley Stahl: So you’ll stay up here?

Eric Trump: So we’ll– we’ll– we’ll be in New York and we’ll take care of the business. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun doing it. And we’re going to make him very proud.

Interestingly, there may be a loophole around all of this. The law says that penalty for violating this law is that the person is “not entitled to pay.” So theoretically, if the Trump children were willing to give up a salary, they might be able to get by. On Sunday night’s ’60 Minutes,’ Trump told Lesley Stahl that he would not take a salary as president.

So, what could happen if Trump did it anyway?

“While it’s true that the penalty for violation of the statute is just to withhold salary or other financial remuneration from the wrongfully appointed employee, there’s also the possibility that any action taken by such a wrongfully appointed employee could be subject to legal challenge and potentially even be voidable,” Steve Vladeck, professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law told CNN.

[image via Shutterstock]


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Rachel Stockman is President of Law&Crime which includes Law&Crime Productions, Law&Crime Network and Under her watch, the company has grown from just a handful of people to a robust production company and network producing dozens of true crime shows a year in partnership with major networks. She also currently serves as Executive Producer of Court Cam, a hit show on A&E, and I Survived a Crime, a new crime show premiering on A&E this fall. She also oversees production of a new daily syndicated show Law&Crime Daily, which is produced in conjunction with Litton Entertainment. In addition to these shows, her network and production company produce programs for Facebook Watch, Cineflix and others. She has spent years covering courts and legal issues, and was named Atlanta Press Club's 'Rising Star' in 2014. Rachel graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and Yale Law School.