­­With recent allegations about a ‘back-channel’ with Russia, was Trump wrong to hire son-in-law Jared Kushner?

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A litmus test for democracy or a storm in a teacup? (Source: Getty)

­­With recent allegations about a ‘backchannel’ with Russia, was Trump wrong to hire son-in-law Jared Kushner?

Sarah Kendzior, journalist and scholar of authoritarian states, says YES.

Donald Trump is attempting to build a dynastic kleptocracy through abuse of executive power. Autocrats are typically paranoid and insular, relying on family and installing them in the government, and Trump’s appointment of Ivanka and Jared is no exception.

Kushner, a failed real estate magnate and newspaper publisher, has no qualifications for his job, but has been tasked with everything from bringing peace to the Middle East to restructuring the government. This is resume padding, the grooming of an heir. Kushner – who no one elected – should be removed from power.

Besides being utterly unqualified, he is under investigation for his role in the Russian interference scandal. Kushner lied on his security clearance forms about contacts with Russia, which normally results in suspension of clearance and ultimately termination. That no action is being taken indicates that the Trump administration considers itself above the law.

Kushner’s crime is a litmus test for democracy in the US, and the US is failing.

Read more: Trump's (son-in-law) adviser Jared Kushner under pressure on Russia reports

David Hawkins, former board member of Republicans Overseas, says NO.

This is a storm in a beltway tea cup. Trying to establish a direct line of communication with the Russians outside of established protocols is not illegal. Its primary purpose was to facilitate discussions on how the US and Russia could pull together to end the civil war in Syria and combat IS. No “back-channel” was ever established, and even if it had been, the US homeland security secretary said such a channel would actually be a good thing.

Kushner was criticised for not disclosing meetings and calls with foreign officials, including the Russian ambassador, but the very next day his office notified the FBI that he would provide supplementary information.

Democrats have even pointed to the 1967 federal law which prohibits public officials from appointing their relatives as grounds for firing him. Under this law employees who do not take a salary are permitted to serve and hence the unpaid Kushner is fully entitled to his position.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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