Have you taken your eyes off of Ivanka Trump for one fucking second? Hopefully not, since she and her husband, Jared Kushner, currently represent one of the most overt threats to our already existentially imperiled democracy—not a small accomplishment!
The New York Times reports that despite both Ivanka and Kushner now operating as full-blown federal employees, they continue to benefit handsomely from their real estate empire, with a collective worth of around $740 million. The disclosure was included in a Friday night news dump by the White House, which also detailed the assets of around 180 other senior officials.
Steve Bannon’s consulting firm was valued at between $5 million and $25 million, in addition to bank accounts valued at as much as $2.25 million. His rental real estate is worth as much as $10.5 million. Kellyanne Conway’s assets are valued at between $11 million and $44.2 million. Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic advisor, holds assets valued at $252 million and $611 million. Together, 27 White House officials have at least $2.3 billion in assets.
Here’s White House press secretary Sean Spicer with some context. Apparently we’re supposed to be grateful that this sideshow of rich buffoons are sacrificing their billions to help us dirt-faced paupers!:
“I think one of the really interesting things that people are going to see today — and I think it’s something that should be celebrated — is that the president has brought a lot of people into this administration, and this White House in particular, who have been very blessed and very successful,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary. The officials “have given up a lot to come into government by setting aside a lot of assets,” he said.
The Trump family, though, is so hopelessly entangled in their assets that even a good-faith effort to unravel them would be futile. Ivanka’s own attorney, Jamie Gorelick, acknowledged that impossibility in an interview with Politico last month, saying that Ivanka “has the conflicts that derive from the ownership of this brand. We’re trying to minimize those to the extent possible.”
Is she? One surefire way of avoiding unconstitutional conflicts of interest would be to have stuck to her original plan, which was to simply avoid taking a professional role in the White House altogether. Too late for that, though. And anyway, Friday’s document release also revealed that Ivanka is continuing to maintain a stake in D.C.’s Trump International Hotel, which the Trump Organization rents from the federal government—her new employer. But sure, she’s “trying.”
The White House on Friday also released a half-hearted plan to mitigate the conflicts between Kushner’s job as Donald Trump’s senior adviser and his ample real estate holdings. Though he technically stepped down from his management positions at his family’s various real estate business, he’s still a beneficiary through a series of trusts.
Larry Noble, a former general counsel and chief ethics officer for the Federal Election Commission, told the Times that the plan is “not sufficient:”
“While removing himself from the management of the businesses is an important step, he is still financially benefiting from how the businesses do. This presents potential for a conflict of interest. Given his level in the White House and broad portfolio, it’s hard to see how he will recuse himself from everything that may impact his financial interest.”
The most haunting thing about these glaring displays of nepotism is that there’s no real way of preventing them, despite the enormity of their potential consequences. As Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility for Ethics in Washington, told the Village Voice in March:
“Are decisions being made in the West Wing with Trump’s businesses in mind? With his family’s businesses in mind?” Libowtiz asked. “If so, will the day come when the military is forced to choose between defending America, or defending the business interests of the Trump family?”
I guess we’ll find out!