The Borgias hit a bump in the road

I didn’t know this: there’s an actual law against presidents hiring family members.

Mr. Kushner has consulted with at least one lawyer and believes that by forgoing a salary and putting his investment fund, his real estate holdings and The New York Observer into a blind trust, he would not be bound by federal nepotism rules, according to one of the people briefed.

Ethics lawyers in both parties said that such an arrangement would violate a federal statute designed to prevent family ties from influencing the functioning of the United States government. Under a 1967 law enacted after John F. Kennedy installed his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, no public official can hire a family member — including one related by marriage — to an agency or office over which he has authority. A separate statute also makes it a crime, punishable by a fine and up to two years of prison time, for government employees to accept voluntary services that are not authorized by law, except in emergency situations.

The anti-nepotism law “would seem to block out Kushner flatly,” said Norman L. Eisen, who served as Mr. Obama’s ethics counsel during his transition and at the White House. If Mr. Trump were to try to skirt it by having Mr. Kushner advise him in a volunteer capacity, he added, he “would be treading upon very serious statutory and constitutional grounds.”

Aka breaking the law, which is a no-no.

Richard W. Painter, an ethics counsel to George W. Bush, said he remembered having to inform a senior official serving Mr. Bush that he was legally barred from granting a White House internship to his son. Mr. Painter based his decision on a reading of the anti-nepotism law by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during Jimmy Carter’s administration, which barred the president from doing so for his own child.

“I told him: ‘Jimmy Carter couldn’t do it. If the president of the United States couldn’t do it, I can’t do it for your kid,’” Mr. Painter recalled. “I got cussed out.”

Of course Trump thinks he’s above the laws, so maybe he’ll just do it anyway.

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