President-elect Donald Trump named his son-in-law Jared Kushner as a senior White House adviser on Monday, an official West Wing role that will raise further questions about conflicts of interest with Trump and his family’s business empire.
Trump’s announcement ended weeks of speculation that Kushner, a prominent real estate developer, would land a top position in the White House.
“Jared has been a tremendous asset and trusted advisor throughout the campaign and transition and I am proud to have him in a key leadership role in my administration,” Trump said in a statement.
Kushner said in a statement that he was “humbled by the opportunity to join” the incoming Trump administration.
But the appointment of Kushner to a formal role in the White House is already raising red flags among critics who say that it could violate federal anti-nepotism laws.
A role in the White House could also lead to possible conflicts of interest for Kushner, 35, whose company is pursuing a real estate deal in China and other ventures that could benefit from his close relationship to the president-elect.
The decision to give Kushner a formal White House position also comes as Trump struggles to disentangle himself from his own business dealings before taking office. The president-elect has said he plans to take steps to distance himself from his businesses, but has not provided details on how he might do that.
Kushner played an important behind-the-scenes role in Trump’s campaign, emerging over the course of the race as one of Trump’s most trusted advisers.
He is married to Ivanka Trump, the president-elect’s eldest daughter, who also served as a key campaign adviser alongside her husband and the president-elect’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump.
In the primaries, Kushner helped draft a high-profile speech that Trump gave to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last March. The speech was one of the first major campaign events where Trump stuck to a prepared text, and it won praise from many conservatives at a time when Trump was struggling to gain traction with the party’s establishment.
Over the summer, Kushner, his wife and her siblings pushed Trump to replace his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. The staff shakeup resulted in the hiring of Paul Manafort and Kellyanne Conway, who guided the campaign through the final months of the election.
Kushner’s stature rose in recent months as his father-in-law sought the presidency. But he has been a well-known figure in New York City for years.
Kushner is the son of Charles Kushner, a real estate developer who served time in federal prison for illegal campaign contributions, as well as witness tampering and tax evasion. The investigation was conducted by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was then serving as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
The election brought renewed attention to the history between the Kushner family and Christie.
Christie endorsed Trump after dropping out of the Republican primaries. He appeared alongside the real estate mogul at campaign events and delivered a keynote speech in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention.
During the campaign, Christie served as the chairman of Trump’s transition committee. But he was pushed out soon after the election, fueling speculation that bad blood remained between Kushner and the man who landed his father in prison.
Kushner also gained notoriety for his purchase of the New York Observer in 2006. Just 25 years old at the time, Kushner became one of the country’s youngest and most prominent newspaper publishers.
Ten years later, he used the newspaper as a platform to support Trump’s campaign. Kushner defended his father-in-law in an op-ed in the newspaper that appeared last July, insisting that Trump was not anti-Semitic or racist.