White House set to release details on staffers’ finances

The White House is pictured. | Getty

Among those whose finances will be made public on standard government forms are President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. | Getty

Disclosures will give more insight into holdings of Trump family and top aides.

The White House plans to release details on the personal finances of top officials Friday night, giving the public greater insight into the investments held by some of the administration’s wealthy players.

Among those whose finances will be made public on standard government forms are President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Both hail from wealthy families deeply involved in the real estate business.

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Kushner resigned from positions with 266 different entities in order to assume his post as senior adviser to Trump, a senior administration official told reporters Friday.

Others with lengthy disclosure reports expected to go public Friday come from high-powered roles in the world of finance, such as National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs.

Administration officials said the disclosure process had been time-consuming and complex because of the significant financial holdings of many of Trump’s appointees.

Financial disclosure forms will be made public upon request for all White House staff making more than $161,755 a year, as well as anyone who’s a commissioned officer—essentially people who hold a title like assistant or special assistant to the president, officials said.

All of those commissioned officers have entered or will enter into “ethics agreements” dictating what positions they’ll resign from, which assets they’ll sell and any matters from which they must be recused, officials said. Those documents won’t be made public, but any waivers of conflict of interest laws will be disclosed, they said.

The disclosure forms can be requested through links on the White House web site and will be distributed by email, officials added.

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Trump: Pence has ‘one hell of a good marriage’

President Donald Trump, in the Oval Office to discuss executive orders on Friday, wanted to get out an unrelated message: He’s impressed with Vice President Mike Pence’s marriage.

“I will tell you, he has one hell of a good marriage going,” said Trump as he stood behind a podium, reaching over to awkwardly grab Pence’s arm. Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, both standing near Trump’s side, smiled at the remark.

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Trump did not appear to explain why he brought up Pence’s marital status, but a recent Washington Post profile of his wife, Karen Pence, riled critics on social media this week. The profile mentioned a 2002 report in The Hill that Pence, then a U.S. congressman, did not eat meals alone with other women or attend events involving alcohol without his wife.

Liberal critics and many women said the rule was misogynistic and limited women’s options for advancement in workplaces with male bosses. Some religious conservatives, however, likened Pence’s practice to that of famed evangelist Billy Graham, who would not meet, eat or travel with a woman alone, which came to be known as the “Billy Graham Rule.”

Trump has styled himself as a champion for women, saying he promoted them in his businesses. But he has been criticized for making graphic comments in the past about women’s bodies and for hiring more men than women in the White House.

Authors:
Aidan Quigley

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McCaskill ‘no’ on Gorsuch moves Senate toward nuclear fight

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Sen. Claire McCaskill’s to withhold support for Gorsuch moves the Senate closer to a confrontation next week over the chamber’s rules. | AP Photo

Moderate Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill will vote to filibuster Neil Gorsuch, becoming the 36th Democratic senator to vow to block President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee from confirmation.

McCaskill’s announcement Friday pushes the Senate ever-closer to a major confrontation next week over the chamber’s rules. If Democrats can secure five more votes to deny Gorsuch the 60 votes he needs to advance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is likely to gut the supermajority requirement on Supreme Court nominees using the “nuclear option.”

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Republicans had hoped people like McCaskill, who is up for reelection in a conservative state next year, would come around to supporting Gorsuch given her state’s backing for Trump. And McCaskill privately fretted at a fundraiser last week that blocking Gorsuch would have dire implications for Democrats if McConnell changes the rules and another Supreme Court vacancy opens up with Trump as president.

But ultimately McCaskill concluded that she “cannot support Judge Gorsuch because a study of his opinions reveal a rigid ideology that always puts the little guy under the boot of corporations.”

“This is a really difficult decision for me. I am not comfortable with either choice,” McCaskill said in a Medium post. “I remain very worried about our polarized politics and what the future will bring, since I’m certain we will have a Senate rule change that will usher in more extreme judges in the future.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is confident they can deny Republicans the eight Democratic votes needed to advance Gorsuch over a filibuster, and there are few clear ways for Gorsuch to get to 60 votes with McCaskill’s decision. Just two Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have declared support for Gorsuch.

Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Chris Coons of Delaware, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia have not publicly announced their positions; neither has Independent Angus King of Maine. Gorsuch now needs six of those 10 senators to support him to avoid a collision over the Senate rules.

McConnell, meanwhile, must cobble together 50 of his 52 members to vote for gutting the filibuster for high-court nominees via the “nuclear option,” a unilateral vote to change the Senate rules. No Republicans have said they will vote against it, and despite the reservations of many in the GOP, it appears to be a done deal.

“He’s going to do the nuclear option,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “He’s going to break the rules to change the rules. No doubt.”

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Schiff heads to White House to review controversial intelligence

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Rep. Adam Schiff added that he would urge the White House to make the documents available to the full House and Senate intelligence committees. | AP Photo

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, went to the White House on Friday to review classified intelligence that President Donald Trump’s spokesman describes as evidence of possible surveillance abuses by the Obama administration.

It is unclear whether the documents are the same ones House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said he viewed during a secret White House visit last week.

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“Today, my staff director and I plan to review the documents at the White House, fully cognizant of the fact that in the absence of the appropriate agency representatives it will not be possible to understand the full content and context of any documents we may review,” Schiff said in a statement.

The California Democrat added that he would urge the White House to make the documents available to the full House and Senate intelligence committees.

Schiff recently wondered aloud whether the White House had been trying to “launder” information through the House Intelligence Committee in a bid to distract from the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump’s team and Moscow.

On Thursday, the White House invited the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees to come view the documents. The Senate Intelligence panel is asking the White House to send the documents instead to a secure facility at the Capitol.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday the White House was in talks with the Senate panel about viewing the documents.

Schiff said that if the documents turn out to be the same ones previously viewed by Nunes, then “the White House must fully disclose what role it appears to have played in concealing that the White House was the very source of documents presented to the White House.”

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