News Wire

Wealthy White House staffers’ finances detailed in new disclosures

Journalists stand outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S.

Journalists stand outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Roberta Rampton and Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday released details of the personal finances of his many wealthy staffers, including senior adviser Steve Bannon, whose pre-White House bank accounts, real estate and other holdings were valued at between $3.3 million and $12.6 million.

The late-night download of federal employee disclosure forms confirmed the affluence of many Trump personnel.

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.

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 forms also showed the incomes of Trump’s inner circle in the 12 months preceding their engagement as government workers.

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, assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, 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.

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 with complex businesses and potential conflicts of interest.

This was not the case for all of them. 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,” and speaking fees from the Casket and Funeral Supply Association and other groups.

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.

Neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence’s assets were included in the documents, nor are Cabinet members. All other senior White House personnel – and those earning more than $161,755 a year – are required to submit disclosure reports.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Eric Beech, Ayesha Rascoe and Yasmeen Abutaleb; Writing by Bill Trott and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Lisa Shumaker)

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