Some of the business and finance executives who left multimillion-dollar jobs to work for President Donald Trump now earn less than the average school teacher, according to White House salary data released Friday. Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. president, now earns $30,000 a year as Trump’s top economic adviser, after leaving his former employer with more than $284 million available in bonuses, stock holdings and other investments. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, both senior advisers to the president, do not take a salary. Financial disclosures show the two have assets valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
In one of the wealthiest administrations in recent history, the top salary in Trump’s White House is $179,700, earned by senior officials including Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior counsel Kellyanne Conway. Women occupy a smaller portion of those earning top pay under Trump than in his predecessor’s administration. Among 22 individuals earning the top salary, 73 percent are male, with 16 men and six women. During the final year of President Barack Obama’s administration, males accounted for 56 percent of those earning the maximum salary of $176,461, a level reached by nine men and seven women, according to an analysis by the American Enterprise Institute.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, and Dan Scavino, who is the director of social media, are among those at the top salary tier, according to the data, which show information for 377 employees, compared to 487 in the Obama administration’s first year. Trump has often boasted about the wealth of his staff members and Cabinet secretaries, some of whom left multimillion-dollar businesses to work for him. At a rally in Iowa last week, Trump said Cohn and other economic officials now work for “peanuts.”
“And I love all people, rich or poor,” Trump said at the rally in Cedar Rapids. “But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?” A White House official defended the gender gap by saying senior staff members at comparable ranks make similar salaries.
Among assistants to the president, women make an average of $664 more than their male counterparts, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide gender pay data. For deputy assistants, the second-highest rank, men earn $4,603 more than their female counterparts. For special assistants, the third-highest rank, women earn $3,786 more, the official said.
Working for Free
Those numbers are skewed in part by the decision of several wealthy executives to take a low salary, or none, while working for Trump. Chris Liddell, a former chief financial officer at Microsoft Corp. and General Motors Co. who runs Trump’s American Technology Council, earns the same salary as Cohn: $30,000.
Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intergovernmental and technology initiatives, draws no salary. Cordish, whose family runs the Baltimore-based real-estate firm Cordish Cos., is one of the wealthiest members of the Trump administration, according to White House financial disclosures. Trump, himself a billionaire, has said he will donate his $400,000 salary, and the White House presented a check to the National Park Service for $78,333.32 in April. The total represented Trump’s salary for first quarter of the year.
Trump has praised Cohn and other wealthy staff members for taking jobs in the White House, saying they were sacrificing on behalf of the country.
“He went from massive pay days to peanuts,” Trump said of Cohn at the rally in Cedar Rapids. “I’m waiting for them to accuse him of wanting that little amount of money.”