Illustration by Leona Cheung/ Businessman showing a blank identity name card on a lanyard
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Donald Trump’s penchant for nepotism calls to mind the very monarchy we forged this nation to escape, discredits the United States in the eyes of the rest of the world and threatens our democracy as we know it by entrusting individuals lacking security clearance, knowledge, and experience with our nation’s secrets.

The proverbial wrench thrown into Mr. Trump’s plans to turn the White House into a family business came in the form of a security clearance downgrade this week for his senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, after reports that several foreign officials were discussing ways to use him to get to the president and gain control. In these discussions they were highlighting ways to “take advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience,” the Washington Post reports. This, in the same week Ivanka Trump, who also does not have the appropriate security clearance, headed to South Korea for the winter Olympics to brief their president on a set of new sanctions for North Korea which she technically is not allowed to know about or discuss.

While the Trump administration would argue that the appointment of these two individuals is a legal grey area, I would argue that the issue could not be more black and white. It violates the purpose of the Anti Nepotism Statute of 1967, to prevent an administration from gaining too much power over the democratic process and to maintain the checks and balances that keep corruption and oligarchy at bay.

Past presidents have hired family before, but none have ever hired members of their family with such little job qualifications or experience as Ivanka and Jared. Two of the most famous examples, Robert Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, are individuals who were both highly qualified for the positions to which they were appointed and spent the better part of their careers preparing for them, independent of their relationship to the president.

This is not the case in today’s White House. The only qualifications Jared and Ivanka seem to possess are that they are related to the president and therefore their actions and any interaction with the media can be controlled by him. Not only are these two unqualified and prime examples of the dangers of nepotism, they have also already piqued the interest of those that would do this nation harm as access points in this administration. Not to mention they have individual conflicts of interest in regards to their businesses outside of the White House.

The fact that these individuals who are supposed to help utilize our top-most secrets to advise the president are still struggling to gain security clearance is a hard truth.

Coupled with their immense inexperience, tremendous conflicts of interest and the damage to our reputation that has already been done as a result of their appointment tells me one thing: America, we have a problem.

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