The Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, led in this Congress by Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), have been investigating foreign gifts provided to Donald Trump and members of his family while he was in office and in recent days dropped some details about some of what went unreported.
There is a possibility of the sometimes pricey gifts from foreign leaders affecting the approach Trump took to foreign policy dealing with those nations or their interests, and there are direct demands under the law for the disclosure by the White House, in details that are eventually made public under the normal process, of gifts that pass certain minimum amounts in value. Yet, the Trump team repeatedly flouted these procedures, and among the gifts unregistered in the public record as previously required was even a portrait of Trump apparently gifted by the president of El Salvador ahead of the 2020 elections. The image, which was identified as larger than life, was taken to southern Florida, evidence accumulated by the oversight committee’s Democrats suggests.
The total value of gifts that went unreported to the State Department, which then gives the public the details, was over a quarter of a million bucks. Some of the physical whereabouts of the gifts are also unknown, although there are established procedures for handling such items, including the option for purchasing the gifted pieces. Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law who spent awhile working in Donald’s inner circles, evidently took advantage of that option, purchasing — and concurrently holding onto — gifts from Saudi leadership including a dagger valued at as high as $24,000.
A company Kushner brought into existence shortly after leaving government service with Donald also received billions from a public investment fund helmed by infamous Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and while the now established conflict of interest is clearly obvious there, those are some of the kinds of connections that could be concerning. Kushner also helped shape the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy relating to that country. Also on the list of items at issue are pricey golf clubs — including a gold golf driver — from Japanese leadership.
“If the president doesn’t comply with the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, it just becomes the Foreign Grifts Act and masks potential violations of the Constitution’s foreign Emoluments Clause, which was the Founders’ essential antidote to bribery by princes, kings and foreign powers,” Raskin said in prepared comments. “Committee Democrats are committed to determining the final whereabouts of these missing big-ticket gifts—such as golf clubs, the larger-than-life custom portrait of Donald Trump from El Salvador, and other potential unreported items—and whether they may have been used to influence the president in his conduct of U.S. foreign policy. 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.”