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Trump's top aides disclose their millions — and some complex financial ties

Trump's top aides disclose their millions — and some complex financial ties
Jared Kushner, from left, Stephen Miller and Stephen Bannon in the Oval Office of the White House last month. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The White House on Friday began disclosing financial holdings of 180 administration officials, revealing the significant personal wealth of President Trump's top aides.

Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and unpaid assistant, valued her retail brand at more than $50 million. Her husband, senior aide Jared Kushner, who is also forgoing a salary, reported hundreds of real estate holdings and other assets totaling more than $700 million.

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Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council and a former Goldman Sachs executive, reported a half-billion dollars in combined income and assets.

And Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist, received more than $1 million in income from the Breitbart website and an array of other conservative media projects he was involved with before joining the president's campaign.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, briefing reporters prior to the release of the disclosure forms, emphasized the sacrifice many officials were making to join the president in public service. Upon joining the administration, many officials with complex financial holdings were required to begin divesting to avoid conflicts of interest.

"One of the really interesting things that people are going to see today — and I think it's something that should be celebrated — is that the president has brought a lot of people into this administration, and this White House in particular, who have been very blessed and very successful by this country, and have given up a lot," he said. "It speaks volumes to the desire for a lot of these people to fulfill the president's vision and move the agenda forward that they are willing to list all of their assets, undergo this public scrutiny."

The president has brought a lot of people into this administration ... who have been very blessed and very successful.


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Spicer told reporters that the administration was "going above and beyond" previous administrations in disclosing the financial arrangements of top officials.

Still, documents arrived at a trickling pace Friday night, delivered only to reporters who specifically requested the information.

All administration officials who have been commissioned with titles of assistants to the president, and civilian employees who earn a salary of more than $160,000, are required to complete the disclosures. White House ethics and compliance officials said 180 were doing so — and that only a handful had requested additional time to do so.

Officials emphasized that the forms offer only a snapshot of an individual's financial relationship at the time they entered into their White House service, and only initial steps to begin addressing potential conflicts of interest. Compliance officers interviewed each of the 180 officials — from lower-level press officers to the chief of staff — and offered instructions about how to avoid conflicts.

Kushner had to resign from 266 positions and had already divested from connections that represented a conflict or was in the process of doing so, an official said.

Ivanka Trump listed the value of her investment in the new Trump International Hotel in Washington as between $5 million and $25 million. Whether she will maintain a financial stake in it now that she has taken on a formal government role was not immediately clear.

Because individuals in some cases report asset values in broad ranges, individuals' net worth is an estimate rather than a precise value.

A document provided to reporters showed that well over half of the disclosures revealed financial arrangements deemed to be "complex" or "extremely complex," based on criteria from the Office of Government Ethics. By comparison, most early-serving Obama administration officials' finances fell into the "simple" or "moderate" categories.

"These are incredibly successful individuals," one administration official told reporters at a briefing Friday. "Very high net worth, very sophisticated, complex asset structures. Numerous sub-LLCs, Trusts, other items."

The president has estimated his net worth at approximately $10 billion but has not filed the same disclosure required of his staff.

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Trump has defied the modern tradition of presidential candidates making their tax returns publicly available, and Spicer would not say Friday whether Trump would reveal his 2016 tax returns, noting the filing deadline was still weeks away.

"I'm worried about getting my own done," said Spicer.

Officials with healthy, if far more modest finances include several who came to the White House from the world of politics or the campaign.

Stephen Miller, a senior policy advisor, reported $125,000 in income from the campaign. Dan Scavino, director of social media for the White House, reported $300,000 income, both a salary and bonus, from his work in the same capacity on the president's campaign.

K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security advisor, reported $63,518 in income from Fox News where she served as an analyst, and more than $126,000 for paid speeches and appearance fees.

For more White House coverage, follow @mikememoli on Twitter.

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