Marilyn Geewax

With Hurricane Maria still smashing up Puerto Rico, the economic costs of this year's hurricane season continue to grow by the minute. It will take a while for economists to tally it all up.

But this much already is clear: The recent enormous storms have taken a toll on the housing industry.

Three separate industry reports, issued over the past three days, have all shown that rough weather in the South and wildfires in the West have been creating problems for this key economic sector.

The House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday considered looking into President Trump's financial ties, particularly those linking him to a bank that had been involved with laundering Russian money.

But Republican members voted "nyet" on a straight party-line vote of 34-26.

More than 190 Democrats in Congress joined together to sue President Trump on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

They say Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by profiting from business deals involving foreign governments — and doing so without congressional consent. And they want the court to make it stop.

Trump has "repeatedly and flagrantly violated" the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters on a conference call.

Can states force President Trump to sell off his businesses?

That question is being raised by a new legal challenge to Trump's continued ownership of far-flung businesses.

On Monday, the attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit in a Maryland federal court, saying that Trump's failure to sell off his interests in hotels, golf courses, office buildings and other properties is undermining public trust and violating the U.S. Constitution's Emoluments Clause.

A nonprofit group's claim that President Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have no standing to sue, according to a court filing by the Department of Justice.

"Those claims falter on threshold grounds: no Plaintiff has alleged an injury" that meets the standing requirement, the DOJ says in a document submitted in federal court.

The Trump administration has granted ethics waivers or partial releases to about a dozen federal agency officials, freeing them from full compliance with ethics rules.

That's according to documents released Wednesday by the Office of Government Ethics.

At a Senate hearing Thursday, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, accused Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of failing to answer his questions about President Trump's business ties to people who might be violating money laundering and other U.S. laws.

Mnuchin responded by suggesting Brown "just send me a note on what you are looking for."

Brown pointed out that he had already sent a two-page letter.

In a letter released Friday, President Trump's lawyers said a decade's worth of his tax returns show that he doesn't owe money to Russian lenders and that he has received no income from Russian sources, "with a few exceptions."

The exceptions include this: "In 2008, Trump Properties LLC sold an estate in Florida, that it had acquired in 2005 for approximately $41 million, to a Russian billionaire for $95 million."

Networking, connecting, pitching — it's all routine in the business world.

But a connection pitched in China over the weekend — involving ties between President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and a real-estate project — has prompted ethics experts to raise objections, and some lawmakers to call for change. There are concerns about potential conflicts of interests, but also about a visa program for investors.

Shortly after the November election, President Trump's initial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski launched a new career — co-founding a lobbying firm called Avenue Strategies.

But he did not register as a lobbyist.

That caused critics to demand investigations into his lack of registration, and now, Lewandowski is quitting.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

An article on a State Department website about President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort has been removed after criticism that it was an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds.

Critics complained that resources were being used to tout the for-profit club, which Trump refers to as the Winter White House. The club, in Palm Beach, Fla., is held in Trump's trust, of which he is the sole beneficiary.

Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub Jr. is calling on the chairman of House Oversight Committee to become more engaged in overseeing ethics questions in the Trump administration.

In an interview with NPR on Monday, Shaub said public inquiries and complaints involving Trump administration conflicts of interest and ethics have been inundating his tiny agency, which has only advisory power.

This spring, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., will host a three-day event co-hosted by a business group.

That's not unusual. But here's what is: The group's chair founded the company that paid President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for lobbying work that may have benefited the Turkish government.

This mashup of money involving Turks, Flynn and Trump has concerned ethics experts who worry about a "pay to play" atmosphere in Washington. Here are the basics:

President Trump is on his way to getting something he has wanted for a long time: dozens of valuable "Trump" trademarks in China.

China's Trademark Office has now given preliminary approval to 38 new trademarks, covering everything from hotels to golf clubs, insurance and more.

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