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Ivanka Trump To Be An Official White House Employee Covered By Ethics Rules

Ivanka Trump, seen at a White House meeting on Tuesday, will will be an official but unpaid White House employee.
Evan Vucci
Ivanka Trump, seen at a White House meeting on Tuesday, will will be an official but unpaid White House employee.

The White House says President Trump has a new special assistant on his staff — his daughter Ivanka. The announcement comes a week after the president's oldest daughter moved into her own office in the West Wing to work on women's issues.

Her shift from an informal adviser at the White House to an unpaid government employee is small but important. She was already applying for security clearance, had access to classified information and was meeting with world leaders.

But she did not have to abide by ethics rules, which concerned many ethics experts who said it would allow her to skirt some rules and disclosures.

In a statement, she says she was voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, but was aware of the concerns about advising her father in a personal capacity.

"I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House Office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees. Throughout this process I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House Counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role," she said.

Her husband, Jared Kushner, already is a senior adviser to his father-in-law, the president.

A senior administration official tells NPR that the Office of Government Ethics had already determined Ivanka Trump met the standard of employee. For example, on Monday, she chaired a roundtable at the White House for women in leadership roles in small business. The meeting included at least two appointees in the administration.

She will face ethics rules in her new position. For example, a conflicts-of-interest provision bars her from participating in any official matter that could affect her personal financial interests, and she can't take gifts from "prohibited sources" – that is, people or entities seeking to do business with the White House.

She will not be allowed an earned income, such as a salary, from outside sources. So she can't be paid for an appearance to promote her merchandise. The ban doesn't include income from investments.

Additionally she will not be allowed gifts and cash from foreign governments or officials.

The White House said, "Ivanka's service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency, and compliance."

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Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.
Peter Overby has covered Washington power, money, and influence since a foresighted NPR editor created the beat in 1994.

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