The government watchdog group known as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has announced a lawsuit against the State Department in which they’re seeking the release of records related to a trip that Donald Trump Jr. took to Mongolia in 2019. While in Mongolia, Trump Jr. killed an endangered argali sheep, which ordinarily requires a special permit that he did not have at the time. Mongolian authorities, however, granted Trump Jr. a permit covering the hunt after the killing, and as CREW noted, the “permit brings up the question of whether or not the Mongolians gave Don Jr. special treatment, potentially in an effort to curry favor with him and his father.”
There are other issues. Trump Jr. also met with the Mongolian president while in the country, and — for some reason — Republican donor Kevin Small was also part of the trip. Noting that it’s already known that the trip cost up to around $75,000 of taxpayer money, CREW insisted that members of the public have “a right to know about the State Department’s role in potentially facilitating contact between the former president’s son, a Republican donor, and a foreign head of state.” It’s worth noting — Trump Jr. himself has never had any official governmental role, so using State Department resources to facilitate a connection for him with a foreign government isn’t some kind of job-related courtesy. It’s corruption.
As summarized by CREW, the records that they’re after “would show the extent of communications between Don Jr. and the Mongolian government” and, in the case of any records referencing Small, the donor, the material “would also indicate if a Republican donor was potentially able to buy access to the former president’s son or to a foreign head of state.”
Other instances of usage of governmental resources for personal benefit were already discovered throughout the Trump administration.
For example, an investigation from the inspector general overseeing the Transportation Department revealed multiple instances when Trump era Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao — the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — used department resources for her personal benefit. At one point, she even tasked a department staff member with editing her father’s Wikipedia page! Chao’s father founded the Foremost Group, a shipping company that does a lot of business. The Transportation Department’s inspector general actually referred their findings regarding Chao to the Justice Department for potential prosecution, but they declined to pursue a case.