All in the family
April 11, 2019

Maryanne Trump Barry, President Trump's older sister, has resigned as a federal appellate judge, ending a judicial investigation into apparently fraudulent tax schemes that could have theoretically led to her impeachment by the U.S. House, The New York Times reports. Judge Barry, 82, stopped hearing cases after her brother was inaugurated, but she was still a senior inactive judge on the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, one step short of retirement.

Barry, a federal judge since 1983, had been notified Feb. 1 that complaints filed last October about possible violations of judicial conduct rules were "receiving the full attention" of a judicial conduct council, the Times reports. She filed her resignation papers 10 days later. Retired judges are not bound by the conduct rules, and the people who filed the complains were notified last week that the inquiry had been dropped without a finding on the allegations' merits, the Times reports.

The complaints against Barry stemmed from reporting in the Times on how the president and his siblings earned millions from potentially illegal tax shelters and other schemes set up by Fred Trump, their father. Barry's partial ownership of a shell company, All County Building Supply & Maintenance, earned her millions, according to financial disclosure forms — that money came from reduced-tax income from inflated invoices and artificially inflated rents, the Times found. Barry also benefited from grossly undervalued assets she and her siblings acquired from Fred Trump through a trust, as the Times explained in this video.

Barry "not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes," the Times reports, but "she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family." When she and her siblings sold off Fred Trump's real estate empire from 2004 to 2006, Barry's share was $182.5 million, the Times found. Barry did not respond to requests for comment from the Times, which notes that as a retired judge, she is entitled to between $184,500 and $217,600 a year. Peter Weber

May 31, 2017

The Ashfords have a problem. Health-care executive Anne Ferlic Ashford and her husband, former Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, both want to run for Congress, but they can't decide which of them should run, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"I'll tell you what, it makes family dinners certainly more interesting than most," said John Ashford, one of Brad and Anne's children. "Most people at my age — their parents are talking about what home to buy in Florida or Arizona or what cruise to go on."

Brad lost the House race in their Nebraska district last November to Republican Rep. Don Bacon. Following the sting of her husband's defeat, Anne decided she might want to try to run herself — but Brad eventually shook off his disappointment, and he realized he missed Capitol Hill.

"We joke — and it's purely a joke — that we're going to have a family primary," Anne said. "Since we have three children, clearly there can't be a tie." Read more about the Ashfords' dilemma at The Wall Street Journal. Jeva Lange

December 15, 2016

When Donald Trump showed up to huddle with America's top tech executives on Wednesday, his three adult children flanked him. The presence of Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric Trump at the meeting sparked outcry as well as finger-pointing from critics about the threat of nepotism: "I looked at this seating map published by Quartz and notice that there are 25 people in attendance. This is a group of our most-senior technology leaders and our new government-elect," Mark Suster wrote for Both Sides of the Table. "Twenty-five people. Four of them  —  FOUR  —  are the president-elect's children. That is 16 percent of everybody in the room ... This is the definition of nepotism that we would condemn from the least democratic nations in the world."

But Kellyanne Conway defended the inclusion of the young Trumps on Morning Joe on Thursday, explaining that, legally speaking, they could even be included in the White House. "The anti-nepotism law apparently has an exception if you want to work in the West Wing because the president is able to appoint his own staff," Conway said. "Of course, this came about to stop maybe family members from serving on the Cabinet, but the president does have discretion to choose a staff of his liking."

"So if that is true and that legal advice holds," Conway added, "then that will open up a realm of possibilities." Watch her explain the loophole, and what it could mean, below. Jeva Lange

December 14, 2016

Every day is "take your kids to work day" when you're Donald Trump — at least it's starting to seem that way. The president-elect met Wednesday with top technology executives in Trump Tower in New York City, and it turned out that his adult children Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric Trump had come along for the ride:

Also in the room were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Tesla's Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Larry Page and Eric E. Schmidt of Google parent Alphabet, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, along with several other tech leaders.

Notably, Trump has vowed to put his business in a "blind trust" run by Donald Jr. and Eric. Already the "blindness" of such a trust is suspect as a true blind trust is run by an independent trustee — and typically, not trustees that accompany the U.S. president to major conversations about the tech industry. Jeva Lange

July 6, 2016

In an op-ed published Wednesday at the Observer, Jared Kushner responded to those urging him to call out his father-in-law Donald Trump over the latter's perceived anti-Semitic behavior. Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, is Jewish, as are Trump's grandchildren. Ivanka converted to Judaism before marrying Kushner in 2009.

Kushner begins his Observer piece bluntly, writing: "My father-in-law is not an anti-Semite." He goes on to detail his family's personal history with the Holocaust — he lost a great-aunt and a great-uncle in the war, he writes — to explain that he knows "the difference between actual, dangerous intolerance versus these labels that get tossed around in an effort to score political points." Kushner also called Trump an "incredibly loving and tolerant person" who has embraced his family's Jewish faith from day one. "The from-the-heart reactions of this man are instinctively pro-Jewish and pro-Israel," Kushner wrote.

Kushner's response comes after he was called out Tuesday by Jewish Observer writer Dana Schwartz for his lack of public criticism of his father-in-law, who sent out a tweet using what was largely seen as anti-Semitic imagery in reference to Hillary Clinton. Kushner is the publisher of the Observer. You can read his entire essay here. Kimberly Alters

June 22, 2015

While many professions are easier to break into if your family is already involved in the industry, it turns out politics is uniquely family-friendly. In fact, if your father was a senator, you are 8,500 times more likely than the average person to become a senator yourself.

As The Washington Post notes, the advantages of family networks in politics are numerous: Though personal connections are valuable in any field, here they "can lead to big campaign donations and votes. It's a ticket to entry that most mere mortals struggle to obtain." So, want to run for office some day, kids? Ask your dad to launch his own campaign now. Bonnie Kristian

February 17, 2015

People upset over Gov. Scott Walker's (R-Wis.) proposed state budget cuts are taking it personally — and are making it personal.

More than 100 protesters rallied right up to Walker's home in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Wauwatosa Now reports, chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, Scott Walker's got to go," "The students united will never be defeated," and "Students are not for sale."

Jennifer Epps-Addison, Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, said of the protest, "[Gov. Walker] brought budget cuts to all our houses, and today we brought it to his."

Gov. Walker's son, Alex, tweeted a picture of the protesters with the caption: "They're protesting out front of our home. Who lives there you might ask? My grandma & grandpa. Unbelievable." Teresa Mull

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