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President Trump shakes Ike Perlmutter's hand before signing an executive order in April 2017. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Three members of President Trump's Mar-a-Lago beach club, led by longtime Trump acquaintance and chairman of Marvel Entertainment Ike Perlmutter, have secretly exerted sweeping influence over the Department of Veteran Affairs, despite having no experience in the U.S. government or military, reports ProPublica.

Why it matters: Documents obtained by ProPublica show that Perlmutter, along with doctor Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman, spoke daily with VA officials and shaped significant policy and personnel decisions, including the nomination of now-ousted VA chief David Shulkin. Some of their advocacy reportedly served their own financial or personal interests, yet their status as informal advisers meant they were not subject to the same ethical oversight as government officials.

In a joint statement, the trio sought to downplay their influence, but interviews and documents suggest that decision-making at the VA ran primarily through them.

"At all times, we offered our help and advice on a voluntary basis, seeking nothing at all in return. While we were always willing to share our thoughts, we did not make or implement any type of policy, possess any authority over agency decisions, or direct government officials to take any actions… To the extent anyone thought our role was anything other than that, we don’t believe it was the result of anything we said or did."

Go deeper

State Department to set up new cyber bureau to combat hack attacks

Secretary of State Tony Blinken speaks on the challenges during an October conference in Quito, Ecuador. Photo:y Felipe Stanley/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced Monday plans for the State Department to create a new bureau of cyberspace and digital policy.

Why it matters: The establishment of the bureau and plans for a new envoy to oversee critical and emerging technology come after a series significant hack attacks and other online crimes, notably ransomware assaults on U.S. infrastructure.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.