At The Nexus Of America's Worst Culture Of Corruption: Trumpy-the-Clown And His Family
Earlier today we saw how vulnerable the U.S. is to China because of the culture of corruption that is at the center of the Trump Regime's DNA-- and that especially includes his family. Not just includes, features! This morning Eric Lipton at the NY Times reported on the double-edged sword of Trumpy-the-Clown family members Ivanka and Kushner-in-law working at the White House. "[T]he financial disclosure report released late Friday for Mr. Kushner," wrote Lipton, "which shows that he and his wife still benefit financially from a real estate and investment empire worth as much as $740 million, makes clear that this most powerful Washington couple is walking on perilous legal and ethical ground, according to several prominent experts on the subject."
Unlike Mr. Trump, who is exempt from conflict of interest laws, both Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump-- who took a formal White House position this past week-- are forbidden under federal criminal and civil law to take any action that might benefit their particular financial holdings.
“Donald Trump can evade legal responsibility even if the conflicts of interest remain,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal nonprofit group. “His daughter and son-in-law don’t have that escape hatch.”
Mr. Kushner did resign from more than 200 positions in the partnerships and limited liability companies that make up the family-run multibillion-dollar real estate business. But the financial disclosure report shows that Mr. Kushner will remain a beneficiary of most of those same entities.
...[R]eal estate projects like the Kushner Companies’ deals have become a magnet for opaque foreign money — often from parts of the world that present thorny policy questions, such as China, where Mr. Kushner’s company has actively sought investors, as well as the Middle East and Russia. As part of his exceptionally broad portfolio in the White House, Mr. Kushner has been a crucial figure in arranging the visit of the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, on Thursday in Florida.
The mystery behind many real estate investments involving foreigners prompted the Treasury Department last year to push for additional disclosures as a way to combat money laundering.
While Mr. Kushner may face a potential ethical minefield, the disclosure form makes it difficult to determine exactly where those mines might be situated. The form, which runs 54 pages and lists hundreds of entities, reveals few details about the underlying investments that make up the Kushner empire, such as the addresses of buildings, sources of financing and names of partners.
John Pudner, a conservative who has helped elect Tea Party candidates to Congress and now runs a nonprofit group called Take Back Our Republic, said that Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, if they wanted to serve in the White House, would have been better off if they had taken the difficult step of liquidating their holdings.
“A win-win for the president’s family and everyone else is if there were no question anytime a decision is made that it’s being done for the good of the country,” he said.
...The federal ethics regulations formally prohibit federal employees from being involved in any “particular matter that will have a direct effect on a financial interest, if there is a close causal link between any decision or action to be taken in the matter and any expected effect of the matter on the financial interest.”
But Mr. Painter said that most administrations had interpreted the law more broadly, so that officials who own stakes in individual industries do not participate in even broad policy decisions affecting that sector, unless they seek a formal ethics waiver, as certain officials did during the first George Bush administration, given that they owned energy industry stocks and were participating in the decision to enter the war against Iraq over its invasion of Kuwait.
Federal employees, under ethics rules that Mr. Trump imposed, are also prohibited, for at least two years after they arrive in the government, from working on particular matters that involve former employers or clients, even if these actions do not directly financially benefit the federal employee.
The disclosures by Mr. Kushner and other White House officials released on Friday demonstrate just how complicated it is going to be to police these rules, given the vast and extremely complex financial assets not only within the Trump family but also among dozens of aides they have selected.