Could Trump son-in-law end up at heart of White House?

Trump may wait to announce cabinet choices

Can Donald Trump bring his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, into the White House? And could Kushner get a security clearance?

The answers, according to several legal experts, are yes and yes.

No paperwork has been submitted for "top secret" security credentials for any for the president-elect's grown children or Kushner, senior intelligence officials with direct knowledge of the situation told NBC News.

Trump has said his children will run the Trump Organization, the family business, but there has been mounting speculation that he may want Kushner by his side in the White House. Kushner played a key role in the campaign.

Watch the NBC report

A source close to Kushner told NBC News late Wednesday that he was considering whether to serve in the White House in a role along the lines of a special adviser or special counsel after being approached by Trump's Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

More: Is Kushner getting revenge on Christie?

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In terms of security clearance, lawyers involved in past transitions say members of the transition need clearances in order to read the FBI background reports on potential appointees.

Once Trump is in the White House, there are options for getting Kushner a clearance in order to be an adviser.

The president has wide latitude in designating people for clearances.

For example, Trump could appoint Kushner to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board, which is made up of civilians from outside the government.

The board provides the president "with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the intelligence community is meeting the nation's intelligence needs, and the vigor and insight with which the community plans for the future," according to its mission statement.

Many of its civilian members have outside business interests.

Another option would be for Trump to put Kushner into a paid position on the White House staff, according to several legal experts, who say the federal anti-nepotism law would probably not prevent it.

While that law does cover a son-in-law, it prohibits a public official, which the president is, from appointing a relative to a federal agency.

This law would prevent Trump from giving Kushner a job in a Cabinet department. But would it apply to a job as a White House adviser? Probably not, though that is not crystal clear.

In 1993, a federal appeals court looked at the issue as part of a lawsuit over Hillary Clinton's role in the health care task force. The court didn't decide the question but strongly suggested that the White House staff is not a federal agency.

Even if the nepotism law did apply, the court said, "it may well bar appointment only to paid positions in government. Thus, even if it would prevent the president from putting his spouse on the federal payroll, it does not preclude his spouse from aiding the president in the performance of his duties."

The same rule may well apply to a son-in-law.


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