ATLANTA – With every new US president arriving in Washington, DC, come a handful of counselors and aides whose personal ties, built over years and forged in election campaigns, give them pride of place in the administration. From the “Irish Brotherhood” that brought John F. Kennedy to office to the “Berlin Wall” that guarded Richard Nixon’s door, close friends and confidantes have often outdone the administration’s biggest names. But no American president has ever brought to the White House an inner circle dominated by his family – until Donald Trump.
Judging by Trump’s business history and presidential campaign – which featured few, if any, intimates outside his family – his adult children will have a major hand in his administration’s decisions, despite their lack of experience in international and domestic affairs. After hiring and firing personnel and shaping strategy during the election campaign, Trump’s children have remained front and center in his transition team. His daughter, Ivanka, joined the president-elect’s tête-à-tête with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. His son, Donald, Jr., played a role in picking Congressman Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior in the new administration.
Now, Trump is taking his dynasty to the White House. Ivanka is set to take over the First Lady’s office there. Her husband, the real-estate investor Jared Kushner, just might be suited, if only in the eyes of his father-in-law, to serve as a special envoy to broker peace in the Middle East. Yes, Donald, Jr. and his brother, Eric, will remain in New York to run the Trump Organization, which oversees their father’s diverse businesses; but Trump’s claim that his sons will remain at arm’s length strains credulity.
All of this has spurred questions about the Trump children’s capacity to leverage their father’s presidency to benefit the family business, with many fixating on whether Trump is violating conflict-of-interest or anti-nepotism rules. But Trump regards such questions as essentially moot.