21 Trump aides paid top-rung salary of $179,700
Some of the best-known faces in President Donald Trump’s administration are also some of the best paid, according to a new list of White House salaries.
Advisers Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Bannon, along with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Press Secretary Sean Spicer, are among the White House employees receiving the top salary of $179,700. Omarosa Manigault, whose title is listed as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, is also one of the 21 Trump aides pulling down that top salary.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, do not take salaries for their roles as presidential advisers, according to the list released Friday evening. The annual list is mandated by Congress.
Reed Cordish, a Baltimore developer and friend of Kushner’s who was hired to run an initiative focused on technology, is also not taking a salary for his White House work, while Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs chief executive serving as director of the National Economic Council, is being paid $30,000.
Christopher Liddell, a former top executive at Microsoft and other businesses, is also taking a $30,000 salary for his work as a White House adviser. He and Cohn are the lowest-paid employees who receive a salary. The bottom of the scale for regular White House hires is $40,000.
Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is paid $165,000, the next rung down from the top level.
Trump defended his hiring of rich advisers such as Cohn and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during an address to supporters last month in Iowa.
“Somebody said, ‘Why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy?’ No, it’s true. And Wilbur’s a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said: ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want.’” Trump said. “They had to give up a lot to take those jobs.”
“And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?” he added.
Trump is correct that wealthy advisers give up much larger salaries to accept White House or other administration jobs. Although the top White House salary level of nearly $180,000 is well above the national average of roughly $50,000, it is low by comparison to salaries in the top echelons of law, finance and other fields from which many senior Trump aides were drawn.
There is one employee listed as earning more than the $179,700 top tier. Policy adviser Mark House is paid $187,100 because he is a senior executive with the Federal Aviation Administration, where the salary range is higher. He is on loan to the White House.
The number of Trump employees earning the top amount is in line with some years of former President Barack Obama’s administration, although in his final year in office in 2016, Obama listed 16 aides who were paid the then-top figure of $176,461.