Neither President Donald Trump’s children nor his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner should hold public service roles within the White House, U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, said Thursday.

Flores, who represents Waco in Texas’ 17th Congressional District, made the comments days after The New York Times reported Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer to receive damaging information about his father’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Flores said he supports Trump’s agenda, but there are “too many distractions inside of the White House” caused by Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and Kushner’s wife, holding high-ranking positions.

“I think it would be in the president’s best interest, in terms of moving forward with our agenda, if they went back on to the private sector and were taking care of their business operations and not be involved in the White House,” Flores said.

Flores said he held these views before the recent revelations regarding Trump’s eldest son but chose to keep them to himself.

Trump Jr. attended the June 2016 meeting with Kushner and then-campaign-chairman Paul Manafort, the Times reported, knowing the lawyer’s ties to the Russian government.

Flores said he thinks Trump Jr. was trying to act in his father’s best interest but that the meeting should not have happened.

In a tweet Wednesday, the president wrote, “My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!”

Flores said he expressed his views on the Trump children’s positions to White House officials, adding that he means “no criticism.” He said he does not fear any political backlash but has no intention of pushing the matter further than he has.

Ivanka Trump and Kushner do not take salaries, according to a list of staff salaries released by the White House last month. Trump Jr. remains a private citizen with no official role in the White House.

“I support the agenda he’s moving forward with,” Flores said of the president. “I’m trying to look out for his best interest. Removing the things, the distractions that the liberal media seems to focus on, if we can do that, I think that’s beneficial for him moving forward.”

Flores said the substance from the White House and from Congress has been positive and that the president has Republican lawmakers’ allegiance.

“I will tell you, in real world America, they could care less about Russia,” Flores said.

Education and health care issues are more important for his constituents, he said.

The Affordable Care Act must be repealed and replaced without bipartisan support, he said. Moderate Senate Republicans have indicated input from Democrats may be needed as tweaks to the bill continue.

“The Democrats are dug in on protecting Obamacare or moving to a single-payer system,” Flores said. “The Republicans are trying to get relief for Americans from Obamacare, so there’s not a good intersection there for bipartisanship.”

Flores said bipartisan efforts should follow “repeal and replace.” Those efforts could lead to removing antitrust exemptions used by some insurance companies, exploring transparency in pricing, attempting to ease the opioid crisis and reforming some aspects of Medicaid.

“Last year, we had over 220 different insurance plan options available in the country,” Flores said. “That fell by over 35 percent to 141 for calendar year 2018. Prices are going through the roof. We’ve had a substantial number of counties across the country that have zero options. If you have zero options available under Obamacare, that means Obamacare has failed.”

Flores is serving a fourth, two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives after winning more than 61 percent of the vote in November.

Phillip Ericksen joined the Tribune-Herald in March 2015 as a sports copy editor. That November, he joined the news team. He has covered higher education, city hall, politics and crime.

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