Major news outlets teamed up to gather financial disclosure documents on the Trump administration

The Trump administration on Friday made available the financial disclosures for White House staff. The documents show, among other things, that President Donald Trump’s appointees are indeed quite wealthy.

That is one of many aspects of the Trump administration that are widely seen as unprecedented.

Another unprecedented element would be the manner in which the White House interacts with news organisations. The president has made no secret of his disdain for the journalists charged with holding him and his administration accountable — infamously calling out specific news outlets in February as the “enemy of the American people.”

But the manner in which the Trump administration made the financial disclosures available on Friday night suggest that the fight for access will continue, according to ProPublica’s Eric Umansky.

Umansky made note of the financial disclosures that were released Friday night, calling it an example of “needless obfuscation” from the White House.

“They made WH staffers’ financial disclosures ‘available,’ but they didn’t actually post them,” Umansky said. “They required a separate request for each disclosure. And they didn’t give names. It was like playing transparency Bingo.”

Umansky said ProPublica and other news outlets teamed up to request all of the disclosures on Friday night, and all of the documents were posted online, free and available for anyone to download and review. Umansky then encouraged others to examine the material.

“The best chance of defeating needless secrecy is a collective effort,” Umansky concluded. “Being open like this is how journalism can & should work. Not all the time, but plenty of it.”

The financial disclosures stand in contrast to Trump himself, who has refused to publish his personal tax returns, a decades-long practice in presidential politics. Trump has insisted since last year that he was unable to release the tax returns due to an ongoing audit. Experts have said such audits do not preclude the president from making his tax returns public, but Trump so far has not budged.

Portions of Trump’s tax returns — from 1995 and from 2005 — have made their way into the public domain, but so far a full accounting of the president’s financial profile remains a mystery.

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