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Senators to White House: How Will Kushner Avoid Overlap Between Business Empire and Government Work?

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper wrote the White House after we detailed how Jared Kushner is keeping parts of his family real-estate empire.

Two senators and a congressman are pressing the White House to disclose exactly how Jared Kushner will comply with conflict of interest laws.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent a letter to the Trump administration Wednesday, prompted by our recent story that detailed how Kushner, a top aide to President Trump, is keeping parts of his family real-estate empire.

The White House has declined to detail how Kushner will comply with ethics laws that require government employees to avoid handling issues that could affect their pocketbooks.

Many people entering government comply with the law by simply divesting their assets. Kushner has divested some, but not all, of his business. The White House declined to tell us what holdings Kushner is keeping and what he has given up.

Government employees who hold on to assets must recuse themselves from areas in which they have a conflict. The White House hasn’t detailed specific areas in which Kushner will recuse himself.

The Democrats’ letter is addressed to Stefan Passantino, a White House lawyer charged with handling ethics issues. The letter asks for a response by March 14.

Asked about the letter, White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to tell ProPublica whether the administration plans to respond.

Hicks said in a statement:

“Mr. Kushner is fully complying with the ethics rules, removing himself from active participation in his prior businesses, divesting of substantial assets and recusing himself where appropriate in light of interests that he is not divesting.”

The Democrats’ letter asks the White House to provide details on Kushner’s financial holdings, how Kushner will recuse himself from issues that could affect his businesses, and whether Kushner has recused himself from anything so far.

Kushner is required to release a financial disclosure form that should give a fuller picture of what assets he has kept. It should be made public in the coming weeks or months.

Also this week, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., pressed the White House to continue the Obama-era practice of publishing an annual report on ethics compliance, including details of who was given a waiver from ethics rules.

Tester’s letter to Trump, sent Tuesday, was prompted by our story describing the hiring of three former lobbyists to work on the White House National Economic Council. The former lobbyists appear to be working on issues on which they previously lobbied, a practice that is supposed to be barred by Trump’s January executive order on ethics.

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