//  4/9/17  //  Topic Update

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that President Trump can withdraw money from his businesses at any time, but denied reports that trust documents were changed to permit it (Politico,WaPo).

  • Trump can access everything from profits to underlying assets, such as the businesses themselves (ProPublica).
  • Policing Trump’s business interests through state unfair competition and anti-corruption laws may be challenging, Matthew Stephenson muses (The Global Anticorruption Blog).

The New York Times and Washington Post published a list of highlights from financial disclosure forms of President Trump’s advisors released Friday (NYTWaPo).

  • The White House’s “opaque, incomplete filings” fail to demonstrate a commitment to ethics or transparency, argues the New York Times Editorial Board (NYT).
  • Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker report that experts agree Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, whose financial disclosure form was released Friday, are facing a legal and ethical minefield of potential conflicts of interest (NYT).
  • The NYT Editorial Board surveys and describes the administration officials most likely to use public office for private gain (NYT); the NYT also documents sources of wealth for Steve Bannon, Gary Cohn, and Kellyanne Conway (NYT).
  • Matea Gold, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Amy Brittain document the wealth of President Trump’s top aides (WaPo).
  • The disclosures reveal “the richest, most conflicted, and least transparent [Administration] in living memory,” writes John Cassidy at the New Yorker.
  • The Center for Public Integrity has released a public, sortable, searchable database of the disclosures.

Since inauguration, President Trump has spent 22 out of 76 days in office at his properties, a move that some ethics experts think “blur[s] the line between the family business and his presidential duties” (NYT).

An explosion in political spending after the 2010 Citizens United decision expanded the array of lucrative private political work opportunities in Washington (NYT).

  • Some of President Trump’s former campaign workers are signing lucrative deals with foreign clients despite pledges to avoid foreign lobbying (Politico).

Jared Kushner acts as a “shadow secretary of state”, occupying a singular role in the White House that emanates from his personal relationship with President Trump (WaPo).

  • The pending summit with the Chinese government at Mar-a-Lago will be a strategic disaster because of Kushner’s role, Daniel W. Drezner argues (WaPo).
  • The Chinese government has established a back channel to the Trump administration through Jared Kushner, reports Mark Landler (NYT).

Charles v. Bagli examines the Kushner family’s need for an investor in 666 Park Avenue, now that a potential deal with the Anbang Insurance Group has been called off (NYT).

Many Trump staffers previously worked for right-wing advocacy groups funded by Charles and David Koch, according to recent ethics disclosures (The Intercept).

Judge Curiel granted final approval to a $25 million settlement in a fraud case against President Trump for the seminars and materials offered through Trump University (NYTWSJWaPo).

  • Judge Curiel wrote in his opinion that the settlement was fair and represented a fair deal with an “extraordinary amount of recovery” for former students.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin apologized to the Office of Government Ethics for promoting The Lego Batman Movie at a recent public appearance (WSJ).

  • The movie was produced by a film company that Secretary Mnuchin founded and from which he promised to divest assets within four months of his confirmation.

Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump reportedly asked Andrew McCabe how he voted in the 2016 presidential election while McCabe was under consideration as James Comey's temporary replacement at the FBI.

Update | The Week of November 27, 2017

12/4/17  //  Daily Update

Despite President Trump's denials, the tax bill would certainly benefit him.

Jeffrey Stein

Columbia Law School