With all of the speculation about conflicts of interest within President Donald Trump‘s administration, it’s news when we find out that someone close to the President has actively taken steps to avoid controversy. While Trump himself has not divested from his businesses (he claims he doesn’t have to), his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did, according to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE).
MSNBC’s Ari Melber reported this weekend that Kushner, who is serving as one of Trump’s aides in his administration, contacted OGE to make sure he was taking the necessary steps to avoid conflicts of interest. Freedom of Information Act requests showed that there have certainly been ethics concerns regarding White House staff, but not with Kushner. OGE Director Walter Shaub said that White House staff members had a “risk” of violating “criminal conflicts of interest” laws, and that their ethics process “has broken down.”
Kushner, on the other hand, followed the proper process for handling potential conflicts when he assumed his role in the White House. Documents obtained by MSNBC showed that Kushner’s attorneys contacted OGE and collaborated with the office to plan how to avoid potential conflicts of interest, and then Kushner divested from several businesses.
Former Chief White House Ethics Lawyer Norm Eisen lamented that Trump himself didn’t do the same. “The member of this administration with the most profound conflicts did neither of the two proper and smart things his son-in-law did,” Eisen said in an email to MSNBC.
All the President has done regarding his business dealings was step away from their operations, but he still maintains ownership as his children run the organization. Shaub has said that Trump’s decision to step back from operating his business is “meaningless,” because his responsibilities as President would force him to do that.
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