Trump son-in-law moves to distance self from business ties

2017-01-08 16:19
Jared Kushner. (File, AP)

Jared Kushner. (File, AP)

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New York - Jared Kushner, President-elect Donald Trump's son-in-law and one of his closest advisers, is taking steps to distance himself from his sprawling New York real estate business in what is the clearest sign yet he is planning to take a position in the new administration.

Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, must clear a series of hurdles before he takes any post in Washington. He will need to argue that a federal anti-nepotism law that bar officials from appointing relatives to government positions does not apply to him as well as eliminate potential conflicts of interest between his family's multi-billion dollar real estate empire and his government duties.

Specific parties

Kushner, who often has the last word with the president-elect before a major decision is made, has explored stepping away from his role as CEO of the real estate business and has consulted federal officials about resolving potential conflicts, according to his lawyer.

"Mr Kushner is committed to complying with federal ethics laws and we have been consulting with the Office of Government Ethics regarding the steps he would take," said Jamie Gorelick, in a statement.

"Although plans are not finalised, Mr Kushner would resign from his position at Kushner Companies and divest substantial assets in accordance with federal guidelines."

Gorelick said that Kushner "would recuse from particular matters that would have a direct and predictable effect on his remaining financial interests. He would also abide by federal rules requiring impartiality in particular matters involving specific parties."

Kushner's challenges highlight a notable pattern of the incoming administration. While some government officials will be forced to divest and rearrange their financial portfolios to comply with federal ethics laws, their boss will not be required to do the same. As president, Trump is exempt from laws aimed at ensuring federal employees' personal financial interests do not influence their decisions.

Plans for business

The president-elect has said he intends to distance himself from his own international real estate business, but he has suggested he intends to break from precedent by retaining a stake in the company.

Trump is expected to announce some plans for his business during a Wednesday news conference.

The Kushner Companies is a major real estate investor in New York and elsewhere and participated in roughly $7bn in acquisitions in the last decade. If Kushner joined the administration, he would divest some of business interests, including his stake in a major Fifth Avenue skyscraper, according to his spokesperson Risa Heller. Kushner has spent months negotiating a redevelopment of that building with Anbang Insurance Group, a real estate giant with close ties to the Chinese government, The New York Times reported on Saturday.


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