A 15-page report resulting from a a year-long investigation by the House Oversight Committee Trump’s failure to disclose gifts from foreign government officials while in office revealed that the Trump family failed to disclose dozens of gifts from countries that are not US allies or have a complicated relationship with Washington. It includes 16 gifts from Saudi Arabia worth more than $48,000, 17 gifts from India worth more than $17,000 and at least five gifts from China. According to the report, Trump reported zero gifts entirely in the final year of his presidency, while he reported some gifts he received in previous years.
Trump repeatedly told advisers that gifts given to him during his presidency were his and was not part of the federal government, former Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and other aides previously told The Washington Post.
Investigators are continuing to search for a large portrait of Trump and more than $7,000 worth of golf clubs gifted to him by Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele ahead of the 2020 election. Trump received Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during visits to Trump International Golf Club and Kasumigaseki Country Club in 2017 and 2018, according to the report.
Most over 100 gifts identified by the committee are now in the possession of the National Archives or the federal government, even if they have not been reported to the State Department. It’s unclear how many of the gifts were returned before and after Trump left office, officials said.
The imperfect accounting practices uncovered by House investigators are based on a review of presidential records, so any gifts to the Trump family that administration officials failed to mention in written communications could still be unpaid. Republicans did not appear to be involved in the investigation, which began when Democrats controlled the House.
“We’ve been able to piece all of this together through independent sources, but there could be a lot more given that none of these gifts were reported and we only found out about them through various investigative work and accidents,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md. .), a member of the House Oversight Committee, declined to comment on whether the committee plans to file a criminal complaint with the Justice Department.
Email correspondence between Trump White House officials reviewed by The Post shows sporadic logging of items given to Trump. In one email exchange The White House counsel’s office issued incorrect instructions to White House staff about the accounting process for foreign gifts.
The report also raises concerns about whether foreign governments have used undeclared gifts to influence U.S. policy toward those countries. A letter sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Raskin on Friday requested documents and communications related to foreign gifts and Trump and his family, including “any reference to influence on U.S. foreign policy.”
Without addressing the remaining items, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung issued a statement attacking Raskin and the National Archives, saying the agency knows “many of the shipments were received either before or after the administration.”
Typically, the White House Gift Unit records all domestic and foreign gifts and their value that the president and first family receive. If the official wishes to keep the gift, he has the option of paying the full value in accordance with the Foreign Gifts and Honors Act. A 1966 law prohibits officials from personally keeping gifts worth more than $415 from foreign sources.
Otherwise, the gift will be transferred to the archives, where it will be kept for the use of the presidential libraries. Gifts intended for the White House residence are directed to the Park Service of the Department of the Interior, and gifts not sent to the archives or not personally retained by the president or his family are sent to the General Services Administration. Luke Niederhelman served as director of the White House Office of Gifts under Trump and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Protocol Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs separately publishes a list each year of all gifts given to federal employees by a foreign government. The State Department revealed in 2021 that because Trump White House officials did not provide a list of foreign gifts Trump received before leaving office, the department did not have the necessary information to prepare a full 2020 report.
The Post first reported in the fall that investigators were seeking help from the National Archives to find dozens of expensive memorabilia donated to Trump and his family.
Email correspondence included in the committee’s report shows that then-White House Deputy Counsel Scott Gast falsely advised Trump’s executive assistant, Molly Michael, who had asked about required disclosures and gift payments in January 2021, that “no information is required for any gifts purchased with personal funds.”
“While this is true for domestic gifts, Mr. Gast did not specify that all foreign gifts that exceed the minimum value must be reported, regardless of their placement,” the researchers wrote.
Gast did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committee’s effort to track down Trump’s portrait serves as a snapshot of the messiness of the Trump administration’s gift accounting practices.
In November 2020, the US ambassador to El Salvador emailed Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner’s aide Avi Berkowitz to inform him that President Nayib Bukele had delivered a painting to the residence to be sent to Trump.
“President Bukele contracted with the same Salvadoran artist who finished his portrait for the president’s house here,” Ambassador Ronald Johnson said in an email that included photos of himself giving a thumbs-up next to a large painting. “It took the artist six months to complete the painting and the attention to detail is absolutely incredible (see some close-ups below).
The email was forwarded directly to Kushner, who then asked his assistant Cassidy Dumbauld to “take care of this,” noting that the painting was “very nice.” Dumbauld replied later that day that the painting was to be delivered to the White House. However, the researchers state in the report that there is no record of the gift, and neither the National Archives nor the public service institution had a record of the purchase of the painting.
“…despite GSA transition documents showing that Donald Trump’s office director of correspondence certified ‘full compliance with the final disposition of the gifts’ in April 2021, some information suggests that the portrait may have been transferred to Florida as ‘property of the former’ President in July 2021,” the researchers concluded .
A spokesperson for the National Archives said it was cooperating with the report, but declined to comment on its findings.
Ethics experts say the problems reflect a broader problem with the implementation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which requires the president to ask Congress for permission to accept a gift from a foreigner.
“If someone accepts a gift that you’re not allowed to accept under the Constitution or under government ethics rules, that’s not a crime,” said Richard Painter, chief White House counsel for President George W. Bush. “But if someone knowingly lied on the gift disclosure forms, that’s a violation of the False Statements Act and should be reported to the Department of Justice.”
The board’s findings show large differences in the formal accounting of gifts. For example, the State Department’s Federal Register Listing reported that the Trump family received 10 gifts from Saudi Arabia in 2017, two gifts from the country in 2018, zero gifts in 2019 and one gift in 2020. However, the committee identified 16 other gifts from Saudi Arabia. Arabic that had not been reported, totaling more than $45,000.
Kushner, who has benefited financially from a close relationship with the Saudis during the Trump presidency, bought and kept five undeclared gifts from the Saudis, including a $24,000 dagger and scabbard given to him by Mohammed bin, according to GSA records obtained by the committee. Salman and two sets of swords valued at $8,800.
Raskin recently renewed a request for documents related to Kushner’s investment company, which raised $2 billion from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund as part of an ongoing investigation into Kushner’s ties to the Saudi government.
A spokesman for Kushner declined to comment.
While Trump does not have records of foreign gifts he personally purchased, other family members purchased gifts legally. Correspondence obtained by committee investigators showed that at least one member of the Trump family tried to cover up the purchase.
In one instance, Melania Trump tried to “remember NARA diamond earrings from the Czech Republic, valued at $470, but wanted to avoid making the item public,” the researchers wrote. The note said: “REMINDER NARA (FLOTUS does not want to reveal anything publicly [sic]PURCHASE?'”
Ivanka Trump was also showered with gifts throughout her father’s tenure as an advisor, including a mother-of-pearl mosaic portrait of her from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in 2017 and a $2,450 thick gold bracelet from the Indian prime minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2020. Kushner, Ivanka Trump and their children received a total of 33 undeclared gifts worth more than $80,000, House investigators found.
According to the report, he bought a number of items to keep, including a $1,200 Steiff “light mohair” teddy bear with a red and white coat with gold trim, which former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz donated in 2019.