Trump and his family failed to report nearly $300,000 in gifts from foreign governments, House Democrats claim in new report



CNN

Donald Trump and his family failed to report nearly $300,000 worth of gifts they received from foreign governments between 2017 and 2020, including a “larger-sized painting” of the former president that may currently reside at the Mar-a-Lago resort , according to a new report by Democrats to the House Oversight Committee and supporting documents obtained by CNN.

More than 100 gifts from foreign dignitaries, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, totaling more than a quarter of a million dollars, were never disclosed to the State Department by Trump and members of his immediate family as required . according to the law, the report says.

House Democrats say the discovery of these undeclared foreign gifts, including 17 from Saudi Arabia totaling more than $48,000, “raises significant questions about why former President Trump failed to disclose these gifts to the public” and whether they may have been used to influence US policy under the previous administration. The report provides no concrete evidence that US policy was influenced by the gifts.

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, told CNN that the fact that those figures were never reported and some are now missing “suggests serious violations of the Alien Compensation Clause.”

“This part of the Constitution is America’s original anti-bribery law,” Raskin said, noting that lawmakers could make criminal referrals if there is evidence to warrant it.

“But in reality, Congress on a bipartisan basis must legislate to create meaningful enforcement mechanisms in the Emoluments Clause,” he added. “This will force us to recover the wisdom of the framers who held that people in public office are not subject to foreign governments.”

House Democrats have sought to highlight Trump’s foreign engagements as their Republican colleagues and the new GOP chairman of the Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, ramp up their own investigation into the president’s son Joe Biden’s foreign dealings. Hunter.

Last year, the State Department revealed it could not fully account for foreign gifts received by Trump officials during the president’s last year in office, but the interim report released Friday cited “new information received by the committee {which } reveal that the failure to disclose gifts from foreign governments was much broader than previously known and extended throughout the Trump administration.”

“Internal White House records obtained by the Committee show that lists provided by the White House to the Office of the Chief Protocol did not include all foreign gifts received by former President Trump and the First Family not only in 2020, but throughout throughout the Trump Administration,” the report notes.

“In total, the records show that former President Trump and the First Family received 117 unreported foreign gifts worth approximately $291,000,” the interim report said. The report zeroes in on the unknown gifts from Saudi Arabia, Japan, India and China.

“Legally, of course, it makes no difference if they were just completely reckless or deliberately decided to thumb their nose at the law and the Constitution, but morally, we can safely say that this is exactly the kind of small detail that Donald Trump he loves to obsess,” Raskin told CNN.

Trump alone failed to report more than 50 foreign gifts — with a total estimated value of more than $150,000 — during his time in office, according to House Democrats. As for foreign gifts shared with the State Department, Trump disclosed 36 in 2017, 17 in 2018, 23 in 2019 and zero in 2020.

The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act prohibits a president and federal officials from keeping foreign gifts that exceed the minimum value, which is currently set at $415. The law also established a system for how information on foreign gifts is publicly disclosed and allows recipients of items valued above the specified dollar amount to be able to purchase and keep them.

Some of the gifts Trump received were valued in the tens of thousands of dollars, including a $12,000 Uzbek silk rug and a $35,000 dagger from the emir of Qatar, the report added.

Some of the items remain unidentified, including a “larger-than-life-size painting” of Trump that was commissioned by the El Salvadoran leader and delivered as a gift just before the 2020 election.

The committee received internal White House communications, including correspondence about the painting being sent from the US Embassy in El Salvador to the US, but found there were “no records of the painting’s disposition”.

“NARA had no records of this panel and GSA [General Services Administration] also had no record of purchasing this gift,” the report said.

“However, despite GSA transition documents indicating that the Director of Mail for the Office of Donald J. Trump certified ‘full compliance with the final disposition of the gifts’ in April 2021, some records suggest that the portrait may have been moved in Florida as a ‘property of the former President’ in July 2021,” he adds.

Email exchanges that include photos of the US ambassador to El Salvador standing next to a larger-than-life portrait of Trump suggest that staff were arranging for the State Department to help transport the gift from the ambassador’s residence to the White House.

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, forwarded the ambassador’s original email about the painting to White House staff, writing, “We can take care of that—very nice,” to which a former Trump White House staffer replied, “Yeah, forwarded to me already and surrendering to WH!”

The report mentions another item that committee investigators were unable to locate despite reviewing data from the White House, NARA and GSA – a gift Kushner received from Egypt.

The White House Office of Gifts under the Trump administration asked the National Archives to transfer a number of gifts from his care back to the White House, which included this gift to Kushner. But there are no records showing the whereabouts of that gift, a box decorated with silver patterns with an estimated value of $450.

There is also no evidence to suggest that the box is in Kushner’s possession.

The panel also found that Kushner, his wife Ivanka Trump and their children together received 33 unreported gifts totaling nearly $82,000.

“The Commission identified 13 additional unreported foreign gifts directed to both former President Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump, totaling more than $22,000,” according to the report.

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