Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich sees no reason for ethics laws to keep President-elect Donald Trump from appointing certain people to his administration.
Gingrich suggested on Monday during an interview with NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” that Trump could sidestep anti-nepotism laws that would bar him from giving advisory roles to his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.
“In the case of the president, he has a broad ability to organize the White House the way he wants to,” Gingrich said.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the nepotism statute into law in 1967, seven years after President John F. Kennedy appointed his brother Bobby Kennedy as attorney general. The law prevents public officials from employing or promoting relatives to a civilian position of an office within their jurisdiction.
Gingrich previously stated Trump might have to get a “waiver” in order to bypass the law. Now it seems the former House speaker doesn’t believe the law necessarily applies to the Trump administration at all.
“[The law] was a very narrowly focused bill really in reaction to a particular personality thing,” Gingrich said. “You have to look at it in the context of what [its creators] were trying to accomplish.”
Overriding nepotism laws wasn’t the only notable rule-bending suggestion Gingrich made Monday. He also seemed to imply Trump could protect advisers who break the law.
“He also has, frankly, the power of the pardon. It’s a totally open power,” Gingrich said. “He could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers. I pardon them if anyone finds them to have behaved against the rules. Period.’ Technically, under the Constitution, he has that level of authority.”
The Fox News contributor said Congress should adopt new practices that would take Trump’s enormous business wealth into account.
“My point is we have never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don’t work, and we’re going to have to think up, you know, a whole new approach,” Gingrich said.
James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, also appeared on Monday’s radio segment and said he couldn’t believe what Gingrich has proposed.
“Speaker Gingrich’s statement that wealth trumps the rule of law ― basically, that’s what he was saying ― is jaw-dropping,” he said.
But the potential appointment of his daughter and son-in-law to his administration is just another conflict of interest that doesn’t seem to bother many Republicans.
“I don’t think that Mr. Trump has as big of a problem as people would like him to have with it, so, no, I have no problem,” Rep. Michael Kelly (R-Pa.) told The Huffington Post earlier this month.