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Politics

Jared Kushner 'forgets' to disclose his assets? Seize them.

Catherine Rampell on

You've heard of the so-called Pottery Barn rule: "You break it, you buy it"?

Maybe it's time for the banana republic rule: "You forget it, you forfeit it."

For the 39th time, top presidential adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner has revised his financial disclosure forms. Kushner disclosed 77 additional assets, collectively worth millions of dollars. These items were "inadvertently omitted" from previous versions of his federal forms, according to a document the White House released Friday.

Hey, I get it.

Financial assets -- like meetings with Russian officials -- can easily slip one's mind. Especially if one's mind is preoccupied with brokering peace in the Middle East, managing diplomatic relations with China, renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement and fixing the entire U.S. government.

And honestly, who among us has not forgotten a multimillion-dollar asset here or there?

Surely we've all reached into the couch cushions, searching for the TV remote, and pulled out a forgotten New Jersey liquor license worth between $500,001 and $1 million. Why, just the other day I was looking for a quarter for the office soda machine and instead stumbled upon a neglected personal art collection valued between $5 million and $25 million.

Maybe Kushner really did forget all those assets, including a stake in a start-up valued at $5 million to $25 million. Just as maybe he really did accidentially submit a security-clearance form that left off more than 100 contacts with foreign nationals.

One reason to give him the benefit of the doubt, at least on his financial forgetfulness: Kushner, like many of President Trump's senior officials, is really rich. And really rich people, almost by definition, have a lot of assets to keep track of.

It's true that willfully omitting an asset on one's federal financial disclosure form comes with the risk of criminal action. But how motivating can a threat of prison possibly be if Kushner knows he can just go back and add anything that the press happens to dig up?

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