Several items gifted to former President Donald Trump from foreign governments while he was in office remain unaccounted for, raising concerns about why the gifts were not disclosed to the State Department as required by federal law.
The Trump administration failed to report more than 100 foreign gifts that were given to the president and his family members during his time in office, including some gifts that have been valued at thousands of dollars, according to a report by Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. The lack of reporting has prompted criticism from members of the committee, who question whether the gifts influenced Trump’s foreign policy while he was president.
“Failures to disclose gifts from foreign governments were much broader than previously known and extended throughout the Trump administration,” lawmakers wrote in their initial report released on Friday. “The discovery of these unreported foreign gifts raises significant questions about why former President Trump failed to disclose these gifts to the public.”
Under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, the president and other federal officials are prohibited from accepting gifts valued at more than $415. If an accepted gift exceeds that value, it then becomes the property of the United States government and must be documented by the National Archives.
Additionally, any gift that exceeds the minimum value must be publicly disclosed and reported to the State Department, which is then compiled into an annual report in the Federal Register.
The Trump administration reported some foreign gifts given to the president and his family members between 2017 and 2019, including 76 received by Trump, 41 by the first lady, 15 by former senior adviser Jared Kushner, and 12 by Ivanka Trump, according to the report. However, the White House failed to report any gifts given to Trump or the first lady during 2020, putting the final number for that year at zero.
Federal officials first raised concerns after the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General released a report in November 2021 indicating the Trump administration was “missing items of a significant value” that were gifted to the president. The report concluded that a “lack of accurate recordkeeping and appropriate physical security controls contributed to the loss of the gifts.”
The State Department later revealed in April 2022 that it could not account for any of the gifts Trump may have received in 2020, noting the Executive Office of the President failed to provide a compiled list. The Office of the Chief of Protocol later attempted to collect the required data after Trump left office, but those attempts were unsuccessful, according to the report.
As a result, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Archives in June 2022 requesting documents on the foreign gifts Trump had received while in office. Internal White House records obtained by the panel show that the Trump administration failed to report all foreign gifts received by the president not only in 2020 but throughout all four years of his presidency.
In total, the committee found that Trump and his family members received 117 unreported foreign gifts valued at roughly $291,000, according to the report. However, lawmakers noted that several gifts remain missing.
One such gift that the Archives have been unable to locate is a “larger-than-life-sized painting of President Trump that the President of El Salvador” gifted to him just before the 2020 elections, according to the report.
The failure to disclose foreign gifts has prompted concerns among lawmakers, who suggested “foreign leaders used gifts to win favor” with Trump while he was in office. Several of the unreported gifts included items from Chinese President Xi Jinping, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The Trump Administration’s failure to disclose more than one hundred foreign gifts President Trump and his family received raises new questions about whether these and other gifts may have been used by foreign governments to influence U.S. policy under President Trump,” lawmakers wrote. “The Committee is seeking additional records regarding these gifts and their potential impact on U.S. policy.”