The 15-page report, a result of one years of investigation by the House Oversight Committee Trump’s failure to disclose gifts from foreign government officials while in office revealed that the Trump family has failed to disclose dozens of gifts from countries that are not U.S. allies or have complicated relationships with Washington. That includes 16 gifts from Saudi Arabia worth more than $48,000, 17 gifts from India worth more than $17,000, and at least 5 gifts from China. According to the report, Trump reported zero gifts in the last year of his presidency, while reporting some of the gifts received in previous years.
Trump repeatedly told advisers that gifts given to him during the presidency were his and did not belong to the federal government, former Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and other aides previously told The Washington Post.
Investigators continue to search for the large portrait of Trump gifted to him by Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele ahead of the 2020 election and the golf clubs worth more than $7,000 that Trump received from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during visits to the Trump International Golf Club and Kasumigaeski Country Club in 2017 and 2018, the report said.
Most of the over 100 gifts identified by the commission are now in the custody of the National Archives or the federal government, even if they were not reported to the State Department. It’s unclear how many of the gifts were returned before Trump left office and afterward, officials say.
The incomplete accounting practices revealed by House investigators are based on a review of presidential records, so any gifts to the Trump family that were not memorialized in written communications by state officials may still be outstanding. Republicans did not appear to participate in the investigation, which began while Democrats controlled the House.
“We were able to piece this all together through independent sources, but there could be a lot more as none of these gifts have been reported and we only found out through various types of investigative work and mishaps.” said Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) , the senior member of the House Oversight Committee, who declined to comment on whether the committee will make a criminal referral to the Justice Department.
Email correspondence between Trump White House officials reviewed by The Post shows a haphazard accounting of items given to Trump. In one email exchange, the White House Council Office issued incorrect guidance to White House staff on the process of accounting for foreign gifts.
The report also raises concerns about whether the unreported gifts may have been used by foreign governments to influence U.S. policy positions toward those countries. A letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Raskin on Friday requested documents and communications related to foreign gifts and Trump and his family, including “any references to effects on U.S. foreign policy.”
Typically, the White House Gifts Unit records all domestic and foreign gifts and their appreciation received by the President and First Family. If a government official wishes to keep a gift, they have the option of paying the full value, as outlined in the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act. The 1966 law prohibits public officials from personally keeping gifts from foreign entities worth more than $415.
Otherwise, the gift will be transferred to the archives, where it will be stored for use in presidential libraries. Gifts intended for the White House residence are referred to the Parks Service of the Department of the Interior, and gifts not sent to the records or personally held by the president or his family are sent to the General Services Administration . Luke Niederhelman was director of the White House gift bureau under Trump and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Separately, the State Department’s Office of Protocol publishes an annual list of all gifts from a foreign government to a federal employee. The State Department announced in 2021 that because Trump White House officials had not provided a list of foreign gifts Trump received before leaving office, the State Department did not have the necessary records to produce a full report for put together in 2020.
The Post first reported last fall that investigators sought help from the National Archives to locate dozens of expensive mementos that had been donated to Trump and his family.
Email correspondence in the committee’s report shows that then-White House deputy adviser Scott Gast incorrectly advised Molly Michael, Trump’s executive assistant, who had asked in January 2021 about required disclosures and payments for gifts that “no disclosure is required for gifts purchased with out-of-pocket funds.”
“While this is true for domestic gifts, Mr. Gast failed to specify that all foreign gifts above the minimum value must be reported, regardless of their nature,” the researchers wrote.
Guest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committee’s efforts to track down Trump’s portrait serve as a snapshot of the disorganization within the Trump administration’s accounting practices.
In November 2020, the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador emailed Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner’s assistant, Avi Berkowitz, to inform him that President Nayib Bukele had delivered a painting to the residence to be shipped to Trump.
“President Bukele contracted the same Salvadoran artist who completed his portrait for the presidential home here,” Ambassador Ronald Johnson wrote in an email with photos of himself giving a thumbs up next to the large painting. “It took the artist 6 months to complete the painting, and the attention to detail is absolutely astonishing (see some close-up examples 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 beautiful”. Dumbauld replied later that day that the painting would be delivered to the White House. However, researchers state in the report that there are no records explaining the donation, and neither the National Archives nor the General Administration Service had records of the purchase of the painting.
“…despite GSA transition documents indicating that the correspondent director of Donald Trump’s office declared ‘full compliance with final disposition of gifts’ in April 2021, certain documents suggest that the portrait may have been moved to Florida ‘as the property of the former President’ in July 2021,” the researchers concluded.
A spokesman for the National Archives said they were cooperating on the report, but declined to comment on the findings.
Ethics experts say the issues reflect a broader problem with enforcement of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which requires the president to ask Congress for permission to accept a gift from a foreigner.
“If someone accepts a gift that is not allowed under the Constitution or the ethical rules of the government, it is not a criminal offense,” said Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer at the White House. “But if someone knowingly lied on the gift disclosure forms, that is a violation of the statue of false statements and should be referred to the Justice Department.”
The committee’s findings reveal major differences in the formal accounting of donations. 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. But the commission identified 16 additional gifts from Saudi Arabia which had not been reported, worth more than $45,000 in total.
Kushner, who has benefited financially from the close relationship forged with the Saudis during Trump’s presidency, bought and kept five gifts from the Saudis, according to GSA records obtained by the commission, including a $24,000 dagger and scabbard given to him by Mohammed bin Salman and two sets of swords worth $8,800.
Raskin recently renewed a document request related to Kushner’s investment firm, 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 Kushner spokesperson declined to comment.
While there is no record of Trump personally purchasing any of the foreign gifts he received, other family members bought gifts legally. Correspondence obtained by committee investigators showed that at least one member of the Trump family attempted to cover up the takeover.
In one case, Melania Trump “attempted to recall $470 worth of diamond earrings given by the Czech Republic, but wanted to prevent disclosure of the item,” researchers wrote. The note read: “REVOCATION OF NARA (FLOTUS prefers not to disclose items [sic]PURCHASE?'”
Ivanka Trump was also showered with gifts during her time as a senior adviser to her father, receiving a mother-of-pearl mosaic portrait of her from Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in 2017 and a chunky $2,450 gold bracelet from Indian Prime, among others. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2020.
She purchased several items to keep, including a $1,200 Steiff “blond mohair” teddy bear with a gold-trimmed red-and-white jacket donated by former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz in 2019, according to the report.