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Disclosures Detail Trump Staff's Assets


One thing certainly can be said about the Trump administration with certainty, and that - it is wealthy - very wealthy. That's according to financial disclosures of 180 administration officials that were released by the White House last night. These disclosures are required when someone starts to work for the administration, and they provide a snapshot of how much people are worth and potential conflicts of interest. NPR's Jackie Northam joins us in our studios. Jackie, thanks for being with us.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: What are some of the things that you noticed?

NORTHAM: Well, I looked at the personal finances of a number of President Trump senior advisors, and that includes his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jerry Kushner. Now, the couple are senior advisers to the president, but they're unpaid employees. Their disclosure form is 54 pages long, and it's just page after page, listing all of their assets and debts. The documents show that the couple has an income of over $200 million, but that their business empire, which is mostly real estate, is worth about $700 million and that the couple will hold on to much of that portfolio once they're in the - you know, during their time in the administration.

SIMON: And does that - does that present any conflicts of interest because they will be involved in decisions that arguably could affect the price of stock in companies in which they own or have a position.

NORTHAM: Absolutely. That's right. Well, I - Kushner's lawyer told the Associated Press that those real estate holdings I was just mentioning are narrow and really don't present any conflict of interest. And, you know, the disclosures show that Kushner has divested a lot. He's resigned from more than 250 positions that he held at various corporations and other groups, but what he hasn't divested are those big holdings in real estate.

The White House says, you know, that these disclosures are not the full picture and that the documents only show the first wave of financial holdings. And so it's unclear at this point how much more divestitures administrations will be doing. The other thing, Scott, though, is Ivanka Trump - her documents show that she still has a stake in the Trump International Hotel here in Washington, D.C. It's just a few blocks from the White House. And the disclosures show her share in the hotel is between five and $25 million and that she made at least a million dollars on the hotel since her father was elected president in November.

SIMON: What other high-ranking officials who are listed in these reports did you notice?

NORTHAM: Steve Bannon, President Trump's chief strategist - he disclosed that he made more than a million dollars last year. And a lot of his income came from his consulting firm and from Breitbart News, which is a conservative news network. The other one that caught my eye was Gary Cohn, and he's the director of the National Economic Council. And he seems to be the wealthiest administration official, by far, with assets of about $250 million. And he made about $50 billion last year, so...

SIMON: Nobody's expecting to see President Trump's tax returns anytime soon, are they?

NORTHAM: We don't know yet. I won't go there (laughter).

SIMON: What about 2016? What about the ones that would have to be filed by this April 15?

NORTHAM: We are waiting to see.

SIMON: 'Cause they presumably are under audit, right? They haven't been filed or - as far as I know.

NORTHAM: Not yet (laughter). We're going to have to wait and see. I mean, we are watching that. In the meantime, he's actually already disclosed. You know, he's already done this financial disclosure himself, so we do have a sense of what he has. He's operating in 20 countries and that, but to get a real good, full sense of it, you're right, we will need the tax returns just to see what the president is worth. Yeah.

SIMON: NPR's Jackie Northam, thanks so much for joining us today.

NORTHAM: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.
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