The claim: Trump's relatives and close associates have been given government roles and profited from the presidency
Just days after the Trump family took the stage and praised their patriarch at the Republican National Convention, liberals took a closer look at the Trump family's ties to the presidency. On Aug. 26, Ridin’ with Biden, a Facebook page dedicated to the election of Democrat Joe Biden, posted a meme that calls the roles of Trump relatives and associates into question.
“Trump’s daughter works at the White House,” claims the meme. “Her husband works at the White House. Rudy’s son works at the White House. Barr’s son-in-law works at the White House. Barr’s daughter works at Treasury. Trump’s sons do foreign business Trump profits from. Trump’s daughter is getting Chinese patents. But sure, let’s talk about Hunter Biden.”
Biden’s son Hunter Biden has received criticism regarding his business dealings in Ukraine during his father’s vice presidency. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi referenced the Hunter Biden controversy during the RNC last month.
A meme with nearly identical text circulated on social media in late 2019 and early 2020. Ridin’ With Biden’s related advocacy group, Occupy Democrats, posted that meme in December 2019 and received 23,000 shares.
Ridin’ With Biden has yet to return USA TODAY’s request for comment.
Let's lay out the claims in the meme and see how they hold up.
Trump’s daughter, son-in-law work at the White House
Ivanka Trump serves as adviser to the president. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is assistant to the president and senior adviser.
Both have forgone pay for their positions.
The day of Trump’s inauguration, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Daniel Koffsky provided a 14-page opinion stating that federal anti-nepotism law didn’t apply to the White House. It stated that the president was allowed “special hiring authority” because the federal law concerns “only appointments in an agency,” which the White House is not.
Kushner was sworn in two days later, on Jan. 22.
Several presidents including Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Obama were advised that they could not appoint relatives to White House positions under the 1967 anti-nepotism law, Section 3110 of Title 5, U.S. Code.
Rudy Giuliani’s son works at the White House
Andrew Giuliani was appointed associate director of the office of public liaison in March 2017. A former campaign volunteer, Giuliani started with a $77,000 salary. He now earns $95,000 as special assistant to the president and associate director of the office of public liaison.
William Barr’s son-in-law worked at the White House and daughter works at the Treasury
In February 2019, William Barr’s son-in-law, Tyler McGaughey, left his position at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, for the White House. At the same time, Barr’s eldest daughter, Mary Daly, left her job at the deputy attorney general’s office for a position within the Treasury Department.
Daly and McGaughey’s moves from the Justice Department coincided with Barr’s nomination as attorney general.
McGaughey’s position particularly drew criticism as some questioned Barr’s independence from the White House as his family served on its counsel's office.
The White House did not return USA TODAY's request for comment.
Trump’s sons do foreign business, from which Trump profits
After his election, Trump announced he would be “turning over complete and total control" of the Trump Organization to his sons. His lawyers announced that the Trump Organization wouldn't conduct any international business deals throughout Trump’s presidency.
This decision drew criticism as most recent presidents have temporarily relinquished control of their assets to blind trusts rather than family members.
Foreign diplomats' frequent stays at Trump hotels have led to criticism that Trump was still profiting off his presidency.
In May, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. government has paid the Trump Organization $970,000 for hotel rooms for staffers and Secret Service agents.
When Donald Trump appointed members of his private Mar-a-Lago golf club to be ambassadors for South Africa and the Dominican Republic, some questioned the ethics of appointing his paying customers.
Trump’s daughter is getting Chinese patents
Ivanka Trump closed her fashion label in July 2018, choosing to focus on her work at the White House.
“After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington, so making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners,” she told USA TODAY then.
Before that, she had faced criticism for her label's continued foreign business profits. Like her father, Ivanka Trump had relinquished control of her business assets to a family-run trust when she began working at the White House. Even so, she continued to profit from her eponymous brand.
In May 2018, the Chinese government granted Ivanka’s brand a series of trademarks. Her company last applied for 17 trademarks on March 28, 2017, a day before she took her role at the White House. China reviewed and decided on dozens of these applications during her tenure at the White House.
Our rating: Partly false
Many of Donald Trump's relatives and close associates have received political appointments and profited during his presidency. It is true that Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Andrew Guiliani work at the White House. It is true that Mary Daly works at Treasury, and that the Trump Organization has profited from foreign governments. However, Barr's son-in-law Tyler McGaughey has since left the White House, and Ivanka Trump has closed her fashion label so she is no longer pursuing Chinese patents, though they were approved after she started work at the White House. We rate this claim PARTLY FALSE, because some of it is not supported by our research.
Our fact-check sources:
USA TODAY, Aug. 26, "What Pam Bondi's attacks on Hunter Biden got right — and wrong"
Executive Office of the President, June 26, "Annual Report to Congress on White House Office Personnel"
USA TODAY, Jan. 9, 2017, "Trump names son-in-law Jared Kushner as White House adviser"
USA TODAY, March 29, 2017, "Ivanka Trump gets new White House title"
USA TODAY, Jan. 21, 2017, "Jared Kushner, Trump son-in-law, cleared to serve as White House adviser"
Department of Justice, Jan 20. 2017, "Application of the Anti-Nepotism Statute to a Presidential Appointment in the White House Office"
C-SPAN, Jan. 22, 2017, "Swearing-in of White House Staff"
WhiteHouse.gov, March 6, 2017, "President Donald J. Trump Announces White House Staff Appointments"
Executive Office of the President, June 30, 2017, "Annual Report to Congress on White House Office Personnel"
CNN, Feb. 13, 2019, "Daughter and son-in-law of AG nominee leaving the Justice Department"
Executive Office of the President, June 28, 2019, "Annual Report to Congress on White House Office Personnel"
USA TODAY, March 18, 2019, "Did Trump keep his 19 promises to insulate himself from his business? Only he knows."
USA TODAY, Jan. 11, 2017, "Trump won't drop ownership of business"
Associated Press, Aug. 1, "Revenue at biggest Trump properties held steady last year"
Washington Post, May 14, "Trump’s company has received at least $970,000 from U.S. taxpayers for room rentals"
OpenSecrets.org, June 4, 2019, "World of Influence: A guide to Trump’s foreign business interests"
USA TODAY, July 24, 2018,"Ivanka Trump shuts down her fashion label"
USA TODAY, May 28, 2018, "China approves 13 new Ivanka Trump trademarks in 3 months"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Claim on Trump White House nepotism is partly false