Trump appoints son-in-law of new attorney general as legal adviser, prompting conflict of interest f
Donald Trump has appointed the son-in-law of his next attorney general to the White House legal office, sparking fresh conflict-of-interest concerns in an administration that has increasingly become a family affair.
Tyler McGaughey, who is married to attorney general William Barr’s youngest daughter, left his post in the Justice Department for the new role.
News of the transition broke just as the US Senate voted to confirm Mr Barr as the nation’s next chief law enforcement officer on Friday afternoon.
The attorney general refused to commit to recusing himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, despite previously describing the probe as “fatally misconceived” in an unsolicited memo sent to the Justice Department.
His son-in-law will now join a division of the White House legal team whose work reportedly intersects with the Russia investigation. However, he has not been assigned to the team responsible for defending the president in the special counsel’s probe.
Mary Daly, Mr Barr’s oldest daughter who also worked at the Justice Department within the deputy attorney general’s office as the director of Opioid Enforcement and Prevention Efforts, has also found a new role at the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. She will now work at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), though her specific role was not immediately clear.
Ms Daly’s husband — who also works at the Justice Department — was expected to remain in his post within the department’s national security division, CNN reported.
Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, described the attorney general’s son-in-law joining the White House legal team as “concerning,” though he said it was “a good idea” for Mr Barr’s family to leave their posts in the Justice Department in order to “avoid the bad optics that could come from the appearance of them working for him”.
“That’s troubling because it raises further questions about Barr’s independence,” Mr Shaub told the network about Mr McGaughey’s new role in the White House.
When questioned about the 20-page memo he sent to the department denouncing the special counsel’s probe, Mr Barr said he would request counsel from the Justice Department’s career ethics officials, but said he would “make my decision based on the law and the facts”.
There were at least 20 families in which multiple members held federal positions across Mr Trump’s administration, according to a Daily Beast report published in 2017.
Many of the president’s own family members either hold senior White House positions or top roles in his 2020 re-election campaign, including his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, whose White House meetings with administration officials have also sparked controversy.