Trump and his family failed to declare nearly $300,000 in gifts, report says

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Donald Trump and his family have failed to declare nearly $300,000 in gifts they received from foreign governments between 2017 and 2020, including a “larger-than-life-size painting” of the former president that can currently be at his Mar-a-Lago residence, according to a report by Democratic Party members on the House Oversight Committee and supporting documents obtained by the CNN .

More than 100 gifts from foreign officials, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, totaling more than $250,000, were never reported to the State Department by the Trumps.

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House Democrats say the discovery of these undeclared foreign gifts — including 17 from Saudi Arabia with a total value of more than $48,000 — “raises important questions about why former President Trump did not release them to the public” and whether they could have been used to influence US policy under the previous administration. The report does not provide any specific evidence that US policy was influenced by incoming goods.

Jamie Raskin, Representative from Maryland and the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, told CNN that the fact that these items were never reported and that some of them were missing “suggests serious violations of the foreign payments clause”.

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“That part of the Constitution is the original anti-bribery law in the United States,” Raskin explained, noting that lawmakers can file criminal charges if there is evidence to justify it.

“But really, on a bipartisan basis, Congress needs to legislate to create meaningful enforcement mechanisms in the Emoluments Clause,” he added. “It will force us to recapture the wisdom of architects who were emphatic that people who hold public office are not exposed to foreign governments.”

Congressmen have tried to focus on Trump’s foreign commitments as his fellow Republicans and new Oversight Committee chairman Representative James Comer of Kentucky are stepping up their own investigation into President Joe Biden’s foreign dealings, Hunter Biden.

Last year, the State Department disclosed that it could not fully account for foreign gifts received by Trump officials during the last year of the president’s term, but the interim report released on Friday (17) cites “new information obtained by the commission [que] reveal that non-disclosure was much broader than previously known and spanned the entire Trump administration.”

“Internal records obtained by the Commission indicate that the lists provided by the White House to the Office of the Chief of Protocol did not include all foreign gifts received by former President Trump and his family not just in 2020, but throughout the entire Trump administration.” , continues the report.

“In total, records indicate that former President Trump and his family received 117 undeclared foreign gifts valued at approximately $291,000,” the document shows. The report focuses on undisclosed gifts from Saudi Arabia, Japan, India and China.

“In a legal sense, of course, it makes no difference whether they were completely reckless or deliberately decided to flout the law and the Constitution, but morally, we can safely say that this is precisely the kind of petty minutiae that Donald Trump loves to obsess over.” alleged Raskin to CNN .

Individually, Trump has not reported more than 50 foreign gifts, with a total estimated value of more than $150,000, during his term, according to House Democrats. As for the foreign donations he 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 accepting foreign gifts that exceed the minimum value, currently set at $415. The act also established a system for how information about foreign gifts is publicly disclosed and allows foreign recipients of items valued above their stated dollar value, the option to buy and hold 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.

The whereabouts of some of the items are unknown, including a “larger-than-life-size painting” of Trump that was commissioned by El Salvador’s leader and given away shortly before the 2020 election.

The panel obtained internal White House communications, including correspondence regarding the shipment of the painting from the US Embassy in El Salvador to the United States, but found that “there are no records of the painting’s destination.”

“The Nara [Arquivos Nacionais e Administração de Documentos] had no records of this painting and the GSA [Administração de Serviços Gerais] I also had no records of the purchase of this gift”, cites the report.

“However, despite GSA transition documents indicating that the mail manager at Donald Trump’s office certified ‘full compliance with the final disposition of donations’ in April 2021, certain records suggest that the portrait may have been transferred to the Florida as ‘Owned by the Former President’ in July 2021”.

E-mail exchanges that include photos of the US ambassador to El Salvador alongside the giant portrait of Trump indicate that the team was arranging for the State Department to help transfer the gift from the ambassador’s residence to the White House.

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, sent the ambassador’s initial email about the painting to White House staff, writing: “Can we take care of this? Well done,” to which a former Trump White House official replied, “Yes, it was forwarded to me and I am forwarding it to WH! [Casa Branca]”

The report lists another item that commission investigators were unable to track despite reviewing data from the White House, Nara and GSA, a gift Kushner received from Egypt.

The White House Gifts Office under the Trump administration asked the National Archives to transfer several items from their custody to the White House, which included this gift for Kushner. But there are no records to indicate where this gift, a silver-patterned box with an estimated value of $450, is located.

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

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

“The commission identified an additional 13 undeclared foreign gifts addressed to former President Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump, totaling more than $22,000 in estimated value,” according to the report.

Source: CNN Brasil

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