President Donald Trump on Friday released details of the personal finances of his staffers, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka, confirming that he has surrounded himself with some very affluent advisers.
White House ethics officials said the legally required disclosure documents provided a snapshot of assets and positions held by personnel when they first entered their new jobs at the White House, and before they started selling stocks and other assets that could pose conflicts of interest.
The White House disclosed Gary Cohn, former Goldman Sachs president and now head of the White House National Economic Council, had assets worth at least $230 million, but possibly much more. Little information was given on several of his assets and only indicated they were worth more than $1 million.
Cohn had income ranging from $48 million to nearly $77 million in the year preceding his engagement in the White House, though it could be much higher.
Jared Kushner’s 54-page report—which included most of the assets and income of his wife Ivanka Trump—included scores of assets worth six- and seven-figures.
The New York Times reported that the couple’s real estate and investment empire was worth as much as $741 million. Kushner held executive positions with 266 LLCs, corporations, groups and nonprofits, which he has resigned from since January.
Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern about potential conflicts of interest for Kushner, who like Trump is a New York real estate developer.
Trump this week officially added his daughter Ivanka to his staff. She had a fashion business and was involved in her father's global real estate development business, but stepped aside from managing the businesses when her father entered the White House.
Senior adviser Steve Bannon's pre-White House bank accounts, real estate and other holdings were valued at between $3.3 million and $12.6 million.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had assets of between $604,000 and $1.16 million and income of $1.42 million. About $566,000 of his income came from the Republican National Committee and the rest from his partnership in a Milwaukee law firm.
Neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence's assets were included in the documents.
Trump has faced questions about conflicts of interest with his hotel and golf course businesses since his election in November. He has handed off control to his two oldest sons, but ethics watchdogs have complained that the arrangements do not go far enough to avoid conflicts, and have urged Trump to divest fully or set up a blind trust for his assets.
Trump, a real estate magnate and television celebrity with no political experience before he was elected president, has brought in some high-net-worth people to advise him.
For example, Reed Cordish, a Baltimore real estate developer before he become Trump's technology adviser, disclosed pre-White House assets of between $92 million and $798 million. He had income of between $48 million and $55 million.
"These are incredibly successful individuals, very high-net worth, very sophisticated complex asset structures, numerous sub LLCs, trusts and other items, all of which have to be worked through," a senior White House ethics official told reporters before the data was released.
Wealthy senior White House staff have to enter into ethics agreements where they agree to resign from positions and divest from assets. Copies of those agreements were not available.
The White House said the independent Office of Government Ethics, which reviews financial disclosures to help executive branch officials avoid conflicts of interest, has classified about 25 percent of Trump White House staffers as having "extremely complex" reports, meaning the filers are very wealthy.
In contrast, only a sliver of the staffers in former Democrat President Barack Obama's White House fell into the "extremely complex" category, according to pie charts released by the White House. No numbers accompanied the charts.
Almost three-quarters of the Obama White House filers had disclosure statements that were rated "simple" or "moderate" while only a third of the Trump filers were in those categories.
Not all of Trump's advisers were gold-plated before joining the government. Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, earned a relatively modest $240,000 from University of California-Irvine, with less than $1,000 in royalties from the book “Death by China” in the past year, and speaking fees from the Casket and Funeral Supply Association and other groups.
Omarosa Manigault, who rose to fame on Trump's reality show the Apprentice and now is a White House adviser, had a modest income under $100,000. The disclosures showed she is a beneficiary of a trust established by her late fiance, actor Michael Clarke Duncan, worth between $1 million and $5 million.
Manigault is currently engaged to a Florida pastor. Forms show she received a wedding dress, veil and accessories worth $25,000 for an appearance on the reality show "Say Yes to the Dress."
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