The Transparency Of The Trump Family

The Trump family has been in the public eye for decades and is no stranger to questions about their affairs. Since moving into the White House, though, how transparent the Trumps are has become a matter of national interest.
President Trump's oldest son, Donald Jr., now finds himself in the middle of the Russia investigation. After The New York Times reported that he met with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, both The Times and Donald Jr. posted online the emails coordinating the meeting. The emails explicitly show entertainment publicist Rob Goldstone telling Donald Jr. the offered documents were "part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump" and the oldest Trump child responding, "If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer."
Donald Jr. said he was being transparent by posting the emails in question on Twitter, and his dad tweeted that his son was "open, transparent and innocent" in a Tuesday night interview with Sean Hannity on the subject. It's worth noting, however, that he posted the documents after being told The Times was about to publish them, days after the story of the controversial meeting initially broke.
Since the Trump family claims they're freely offering information to the public, let's take a look at their track record.
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Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty Images.

President Trump's Taxes

While running for the country's highest office, Donald refused to release his tax returns to the public, claiming he was being audited by the IRS. It's customary, though not required, for presidential candidates to make these documents public. Now that he's president, the White House still hasn't released the documents due to the alleged audit. Trump's tax lawyers claim he's been under continuous IRS audit since 2002.

"It's the same thing that was discussed during the campaign trail," Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in an April press briefing. "The president is under audit. It's a routine one that continues, and I think that the American public know clearly where he stands."

Trump has said he'll release his tax returns when the audit concludes, but when asked if the president will never release them, Spicer replied, "We'll have to get back to you on that."

In a February statement, the IRS said Trump could make the documents public regardless of an audit.
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Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images.

Handing Over The Business

When the Trump transition team was in full swing in January, the president-elect held a press conference about turning over the family business to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. Next to the podium stood a table holding towers of folders Donald claimed held documentation of him signing over the company.

However, journalists weren't allowed to look inside the folders. So, the public doesn't know the details of the separation or how involved the president still is in the company, which raises questions about potential conflicts of interest.
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Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images.

Stepping Away From Ivanka's Business

Similarly to her father, Ivanka separated herself from her fashion brand after Donald was elected president. She's no longer running the company's daily operations and created a trust for her assets that was given to her husband's relatives. The trust dictates that Ivanka will either recuse herself from White House affairs or veto a potential company deal if there's a potential conflict of interest, according to The New York Times.

But, like her father, the other details weren't made public and it's unclear how much involvement she has in the business.

In April, Ivanka's brand was granted provisional approval for three new trademarks from the Chinese government the same day the first daughter and her husband sat beside the Chinese president at a dinner at Mar-a-Lago. The incident highlighted the possible conflicts of interest that can arise while she works for the president.
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Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images.

Donating Hotel Profits

Before taking office, President Trump said the Trump Organization would donate any profits made from foreign governments at Trump hotels to the U.S. Treasury. No such donations have been made yet, and the Trump Organization said in March it would make a donation at the end of the year.

"The donation will be made on an annual basis after the end of each calendar year," Trump Organization spokesperson Amanda Miller told USA Today.

The organization hasn't released its policy for donating the profits or explained how it will separate profits from foreign governments from the business' other profits. Justin Glawe notes in The Washington Post that it will be difficult to hold the president accountable on this promise unless he or the company willingly hand over the receipts.

Nearly 200 congressional Democrats, the state of Marlyand, and the city of Washington D.C. have sued the president for allegedly breaking the Constitution's anti-corruption clauses. They believe accepting money from foreign governments to stay in or hold events at Trump hotels violates the emoluments clause, which restricts presidents from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign governments.
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Photo: Getty Images.

The White House Visitors Log

The White House announced in April it would keep its visitors log private, meaning the public doesn't have access to the list of which officials, lobbyists, and political donors meet with the president and his staff.

White House officials said the move was due to "the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually."

In keeping the logs secret, Trump is breaking with President Obama's practice of making visitors names' public information, with some exceptions, including celebrities and donors who came to personal events at the White House and his daughters' friends. Before Obama, President George W. Bush kept them private and was sued by transparency groups to release certain visitors' names. A federal court ruled that the White House had to disclose visitors logs.
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Photo: Ukas Michael/Pool/Getty Images.

What Ivanka's Advising On

Although Ivanka Trump talks vaguely about helping American workers and veterans, she hasn't said what specific issues and policies she advises her father on. She's technically an unpaid "special assistant" to the president and accompanies him on foreign trips, but her political agenda is unclear.

In fact, she said last month that she tries to "stay out of politics." So, what is she working on?
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Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/Bloomberg.

Jared Kushner's Undisclosed Meetings

Filing for top-secret security clearance requires disclosing any encounters with foreign government officials that took place in the last seven years. Kushner, Ivanka's husband and a senior adviser to the president, didn't initially list several meetings with Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Kushner's lawyer said the president's son-in-law would provide the FBI with additional information.

Because of his involvement in the Trump campaign and the omitted meetings, Kushner is under scrutiny by the FBI and Congress in the investigations into whether the campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
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Photo: ANDRZEJ HULIMKA/AFP/Getty Images.

Melania's College Degree

During the 2016 election, it was discovered that Melania's personal website said she obtained a degree in design and architecture from the University in Slovenia. In August 2016, NBC News reported that one of her former professors said she didn't finish her degree, at least not in Ljubljana.

Then, in November 2016, her bio on her husband's website said she "paused her studies to advance her modeling career in Milan and Paris," contradicting her own website (which was deleted).