In a Washington Post article that reads like a White House press release, the Trump administration announced that the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will lead a new Office of American Innovation “with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy.” The Post calls it a “SWAT team to fix government with business ideas.”
But there are a few reasons to believe this SWAT team won’t be anything more than a neighborhood watch whose only authority is to call Kushner’s father-in-law for backup.
For one thing, despite his new “office,” Kushner is still a White House employee, not a Senate-confirmable officer. That’s more than his wife can say, at the moment, but it still means he can’t legally direct or supervise actual officers who have formal positions in the executive branch. The Post couches this deep in the article with, “Kushner takes projects and decisions directly to the president for sign-off.” Yes, well, good for him.
For another thing, there’s also no risk that President Trump will give his son-in-law “sweeping authority” to do much of anything anytime soon. The only reason Kushner is allowed to work in the White House in the first place is because the Department of Justice concluded that the federal anti-nepotism rules don’t apply to White House employees. The second the president tries to promote Kushner into an officer is the second Kushner is subject to those requirements.
A better headline for the Post article would have been: “President gives son-in-law bigger office to combat nepotism, shrink government.” Let the irony speak for itself.