How Trump’s Senior Advisers Broke Federal Law When They Left The White House — REPORT
A trio of high-profile former Trump administration officials ― strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus, and adviser Sebastian Gorka ― reportedly failed to file legally mandated financial reports upon leaving the White House. This is according to a new report from McClatchy, and would be a violation of federal law. Priebus reportedly filed the required paperwork the same week the report was released, however, and a spokesperson for Bannon claims he's also since filed, although no evidence has reportedly yet been found to confirm this.
According to the report, at least four other ex-White House officials also reportedly failed to file the financial disclosures, among them former national security council members Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey. The forms in question detail any conflicts of interest ex-officials encountered during their time in government, as well as potential future financial opportunities or plans they had upon departing from public life.
The forms are required by law to be filed within 30 days of an official departing from the administration, provided they worked in the White House for more than two months. All of the people mentioned by McClatchy, however, reportedly failed to meet that deadline.
This is far from the first time a Trump administration official has reportedly failed to correctly and fully fill out and file essential, legally required disclosures. Two current officials, in fact ― Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House adviser Jared Kushner ― are facing intense scrutiny over information that was left out of their security clearance filings. Kushner subsequently amended his filing, listing more than 100 contacts with foreign official he'd previously left out.
As quoted in McClatchy's report, Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center called the recent revelations about Priebus, Bannon, and Gorka an indication of a "general lack of respect" for ethics that's been evidenced in various areas of the Trump administration.
It is fairly obvious that there is a general lack of respect for the ethics laws and the values they represent that starts at the top of the administration. It is seen in the president’s conflicts of interest, actions and statements, the number of times Jared Kushner has had to amend his ethics reports and the conflicts of interest that plague many of the president’s appointees.
Part of the reason so many disclosure filings have needed to be filed is the high rate of turnover the Trump administration has seen within its first year.
In addition to Gorka, Bannon, and Priebus, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was also replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Former national security adviser Mike Flynn, now reportedly under heavy scrutiny from special counsel Robert Mueller, got the axe in February. And Anthony Scaramucci never even officially began his White House communications director job, getting dumped just 11 days after being introduced. In short, it has been a volatile administration as far as staffing has been concerned, which means more people have been coming and going than is typical.
Some of Trump's other cabinet positions have been cannibalized through staffing reshuffles, the foremost example being his plucking of former Department of Homeland Security chief John Kelly to serve as chief of staff. That happened back in late July, leaving deputy DHS secretary Elaine Duke to take over in an acting capacity. Months later, however, a permanent replacement has not yet taken over, although Trump announced that Kirstjen Nielsen would assume the position back in October.
It's unclear whether the ex-officials who failed to file on time will face any reprecussions as a result. According to McClatchy, the attorney general could theoretically file charges against any staffer who doesn't file the required disclosures, although the penalty for filing them late is a relatively light $200 fine.