Trump family ran afoul of foreign gift law: Democrats

Saturday, Mar 18, 2023

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump and his family failed to disclose gifts worth a total of more than $250,000 given by foreign governments while he was in the White House, Democrats said on Friday -- including golden golf clubs from Japan and swords from Saudi royalty.

The items were among some 100 presents listed in preliminary findings from opposition Democratic lawmakers who sit on the Republican-led US House Oversight Committee, saying many remained unaccounted for in government records.

Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the panel, criticized the former president´s administration´s “brazen disregard for the rule of law and its systematic mishandling of large gifts from foreign governments.”

The Maryland congressman pointed to “many lavish personalized gifts” that were never reported, vowing to determine their current whereabouts and “whether they may have been used to influence the president in his conduct of US foreign policy.”

They include 16 items from the Saudis and Emiratis worth around $45,000, including a $24,000 dagger from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for Trump´s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and two sword sets. The list also features a larger-than-life painting of Trump from the president of El Salvador that committee investigators believe may have been moved to Florida, where Trump owns a beachfront mansion and three golf clubs.

Japan´s Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated last year, gave a $3,755 gold golf driver to Trump in November 2016, seeking to cultivate a “special relationship” with the newly minted president-elect, the Democrats said. Abe gave the then-president more clubs during visits to the Trump International Golf Club in Florida and Kasumigaseki Country Club on the outskirts of Tokyo in 2017 and 2018.

The Trumps also received 17 unreported gifts from India worth almost $50,000, the report says, including a $4,600 model of the Taj Mahal and $1,900 cufflinks.

“The discovery of these unreported foreign gifts raises significant questions about why former president Trump failed to disclose these gifts to the public, as required by federal law,” the House Democrats said in a statement.

Trump´s office didn´t respond immediately to a request for comment.The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act requires disclosure of all gifts over a minimal value to the president, vice president and their families. The White House compiles the list and provides it to the State Department, which publishes an annual list.

The government typically holds on to the gifts unless the recipients buy them. For example, General Services Administration records show Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who was also a senior adviser, bought five Saudi gifts. But committee Democrats say the White House requested the National Archives return a number of foreign gifts. The archives had no record of other gifts, according to the report.

Raskin sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken a letter on Friday asking for help investigating the gifts. “The Administration’s failure to disclose foreign gifts to former President Trump and his family raises questions about whether these and other gifts may have been used by foreign governments to influence U.S. policy,” Raskin said.