- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2023

President Trump and his family failed to report nearly $300,000 worth of gifts from foreign nations during his time in office, according to a new report by Democrats on the House oversight committee which said the unreported gifts could create constitutional problems.

The Trump family failed to report 17 different gifts from Saudi Arabia, totaling $48,000, including what investigators said was a $24,000 dagger given by the crown prince to Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, who was working as a top aide at the time.

Committee staffers said the Trump family also failed to report a larger-than-life portrait of Mr. Trump given by the president of El Salvador, golf clubs given by Japan’s prime minister and a $4,630 marble model of the Taj Mahal from India’s president.

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, called the report “preliminary” but said it exposes a “brazen disregard for the rule of law.”

He said some of the gifts still haven’t been accounted for.

That includes the portrait from El Salvador, which investigators said may have been spirited away with the Trump family when Mr. Trump left office in January 2021.

“We remain committed to following the facts to determine the extent to which former President Trump broke the law or violated the Constitution when he failed to report gifts and took possession of valuable items without paying the fair market price for them,” Mr. Raskin said.

The Times has reached out to a Trump aide for comment.

Foreign gifts are supposed to be reported in the Federal Register if their dollar value is above a “minimal” level — about $390 for most of Mr. Trump’s tenure.

The president is supposed to be barred by law from possessing them, and instead takes and holds them in trust for the nation via the National Archives.

Recipients who want to keep an item can purchase it from the Archives, but they are still supposed to be reported so the public can judge whether someone appears to be giving favorable treatment to a nation that has plied the president with presents.

Mr. Raskin said Democratic staffers began their probe last year, while they still held the majority on the committee.

Using public reports and internal documents, they identified 117 unreported foreign gifts, totaling $291,000.

The Saudi government was particularly prolific with its gifts, doling out daggers, swords and clothes. Bahrain’s crown prince gave a $12,000 saber, and the Emir of Qatar also presented a $35,000 dagger that went unreported. Investigators say that was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Mr. Raskin’s report suggests the president and his family got worse about compliance over time.

Mr. Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Mr. Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump — who also served as an advisor — reported 74 gifts in 2017. They reported just 34 in 2018, 35 in 2019 and only one in 2020.

Democratic investigators said previous White House occupants reported higher levels of gift-giving.

Investigators found communications they said indicated the Trump family knew it was flouting the law.

One note suggests the first lady sought to reclaim diamond earrings given by the Czech Republic, but tried to keep it all hushed up. A note stated that “FLOTUS prefers not to disclose any items publically[sic].” FLOTUS stands for first lady of the United States.

In addition to ethics law, Mr. Raskin said that the president may have violated the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution, which are supposed to prohibit the president from enriching himself while in office, including via benefits from foreign governments.

Mr. Trump’s critics had pursued legal cases against the then-president for violating the Emoluments Clause by operating the Trump International Hotel in Washington, while serving as president.

The president had lost several procedural battles in lower courts over the allegations, but they never reached final judgments on the substantive issues and the Supreme Court vacated those rulings just after Mr. Trump left office in 2021.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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