Where’s Trump’s financial disclosure? White House blames pandemic

Steve Eder and Ben Protess, The New York Times

Posted at Jul 09 2020 01:48 PM

President Donald Trump during an event about safely reopening America's schools in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, at the White House in Washington, July 7, 2020. Trump’s annual financial disclosure report was due to be made public more than a week ago, but the filing, the only official public document detailing his personal finances, has not yet been released, and the White House and federal ethics officials have declined to explain why. Anna Moneymaker, The New York Times/File

President Donald Trump’s annual financial disclosure report was due to be released more than a week ago. But the filing, the only official public document detailing his personal finances, was not published, and neither the White House nor federal ethics officials offered a public explanation.

The White House addressed the issue Wednesday night. An official said Trump had requested a deadline extension because the report was “complicated” and the president had “been focused on addressing the coronavirus crisis and other matters.”

The report, required under federal ethics rules, provides a partial view of the president’s assets and debts and the performance of his family business. It was originally due in May, but Trump and all White House employees were given a 45-day extension until June 29 because of the pandemic.

The White House official Wednesday said Trump had been given “an additional 45 days, but the president intends to file as soon as possible.”

Last week’s deadline passed without any word from the White House or the Office of Government Ethics, beyond the release of a separate disclosure report by Vice President Mike Pence. In past years, the ethics office has posted Trump’s filing online the day after the deadline.

The delay follows conversations between ethics officials and representatives for Trump about a draft of the filing, according to people briefed on the matter.

The president’s disclosure is treated differently from the disclosures of most other federal officials, including with feedback from the ethics office that can result in modifications to the final public report.

Officials from the Office of Government Ethics declined to comment, saying they do not speak about individual filers. The president’s family business, the Trump Organization, did not respond to a request for comment.

The delay comes as Trump’s lack of transparency around his personal finances continues to be a point of contention in his bid for reelection. Trump’s legal team is fighting the disclosure of his tax records to state and congressional investigations, with a ruling by the Supreme Court expected Thursday.

After initially suggesting he would release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump has never done so, breaking with recent presidential tradition and leaving the annual ethics disclosure as the only public accounting of his finances. This year’s filing would be his sixth since announcing his candidacy in 2015.

Trump has celebrated his previous filings as displays of his business acumen. The reports have been thick with documents showing off more than $1 billion in assets and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and debt.

Last year, Trump faced questions about a possible omission in his disclosure because it did not account for free legal services he had received from Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who served as a legal adviser beginning in 2018. That legal work continued through 2019.

In his filing last week, Pence disclosed raising nearly $500,000 for a legal-defense fund to help pay his bills stemming from the investigation of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Some prominent Republicans were among those contributing to the fund.

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