White House releases financial disclosures of top staffers

The documents reveal that President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, had resigned from their businesses when they entered the White House, but that they - as well as the president himself - have retained a financial interest in many of them.

However, The New York Times reports the couple's empire could be far bigger than this, with a value of up to $741m. Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs investment banker who now serves as director of the National Economic Council, has assets worth at least $253 million, including million-dollar or more stakes in several private companies. "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".

According to her husband's disclosure that stake is worth between AU$6.5 million and AU$32.7 million. The data firm, which is owned by hedge fund manager Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, and is credited with helping Trump win the 2016 election, paid him $125,333 previous year, and Bannon is selling a stake in the firm.

However, his lawyers have determined that his real estate assets - many of which are in New York City - are unlikely to pose the kinds of conflict which would require him to divest.

Mr Trump's administration is considered the most wealthy in USA history, with members of his senior staff and Cabinet worth an estimated US$12 billion (S$17 billion), according to a tally by Bloomberg. Painter is part of a legal team that with watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has sued President Trump over claims that he is violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution by his decision not to divest from his businesses. Information on Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were not included.

Ivanka Trump - who just days ago announced she would officially enter a federal role as an unpaid adviser to the United States president - will hang on to her stake in the Trump International Hotel.

"These are incredibly successful individuals, very high net worth, very sophisticated, complex asset structures, numerous sub-LLCs [limited liability companies], trusts and other items, all of which have to be worked through", the White House official said, adding that every staff member had a "sit-down" about their assets.

They are "not the current holdings that everyone has today", but reflect what employees held before joining the administration, according to the White House.

The Trump Hotel in D.C. has been the subject of a variety of ethics concerns, including the potential that foreign government officials may stay at the hotel to please the Trump administration.

Bannon reported almost $500,000 in income from Bannon Strategic Advisors and disclosed a stake in the company of $5 million to $25 million. The documents show income and assets at the time they started working for the USA government - before any assets were sold or disposed of. Most of Conway's assets, more than $31 million, are held in cash or money-market accounts _ likely because she had to sell most of her investments before taking a job in the White House.

Counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway was seen to make US$800,000 during 2016 campaign, and her assets were valued at more than $US31 million.

Mr Kushner began selling off the most problematic pieces of his portfolio shortly after Mr Trump won the election, and some of those business deals pre-date what is required to be captured in the financial disclosure forms.

  • Zachary Reyes