Donald Trump may have officially won the 2016 presidential election after Monday’s Electoral College vote, but that doesn’t mean the president-elect’s many business conflicts will suddenly disappear. Between reports the New York real estate mogul wants to keep a stake in his empire and his adult sons’ latest attempts to capitalize on his election win, Trump’s business ties and their increasingly problematic closeness to the White House require a level of scrutiny unlike anything seen before in a modern presidency.
Whether or not all of the necessary inquiries will be answered — let alone posed — remains to be seen, especially given the attitude demonstrated by Trump surrogate and potential cabinet pick Newt Gingrich. During an interview on The Diane Rehm Show‘s Monday episode, the former House Speaker offered a rather alarming answer when asked about whether or not Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner’s potential involvement in the administration would break anti-nepotism laws:
“You have to look at it in the context of what they were trying to accomplish. I think in the case of the president, he has a broad ability to organize the White House the way he wants to. He also has, frankly, the power of the pardon. I mean, it is a totally open power, and he could simply say look, I want them to be my advisors, I pardon them if anybody finds them to have behaved against the rules, period. And technically under the Constitution he has that level of authority.”
According to 5 U.S. Code § 3110, which identifies restrictions on the employment of relatives, no American agency or public official can “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.” So if Trump decides to appoint Ivanka, Kushner or anyone else in his family to any kind of position in his post-transition administration, he will effectively break the so-called “anti-nepotism” law.
As Politico notes, what Gingrich said during Monday’s interview was tantamount to suggesting the president-elect “change the ethics laws” to suit his own needs. Yet since Trump canceled a mid-December press conference meant to divulge his plans to qualm potential business and family conflicts while in office (though he wasn’t shy about hosting the press for an off-the-record social gathering), there’s no way to tell precisely how his administration intends to proceed.