by Zachary Cohen and Kylie Atwood | Nation World News
House Democrats are investigating former President Donald Trump’s “apparent failure to account for gifts from foreign government officials while in office” after learning that there may be items worth thousands of dollars that are either missing or fine. According to a new letter sent to the National Archives by the chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and previously obtained by Nation World News.
The committee says it received information from the State Department that “the Trump administration did not ‘prioritize this obligation’ and failed to comply with legislation governing foreign gift reporting during President Trump’s final year in office, “The letter said.
“As a result, the foreign sources and monetary value of gifts received by President Trump remain unknown,” it adds. “The State Department also said it was unable to determine the identities of certain government officials who received foreign gifts during the Trump administration, as well as the sources of those foreign gifts.”
The oversight committee is now requesting information from the National Archives about foreign gifts that Trump and members of his family received during the former president’s tenure.
The investigation is yet another attempt by Democrats to use their congressional authority to investigate potential violations of federal records and ethics laws under the Trump administration.
The revelations about the unaccounted gifts “raise concerns about the potential for undue influence on former President Trump by foreign governments, which may have jeopardized the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, and the potential of the Constitution.” Regarding violation of the emoluments clause, which bars the President from receiving profits from foreign entities while in office,” the committee’s letter said.
“Public reporting indicates that President Trump accepted a number of gifts from foreign sources in 2020, yet these gifts are not required by law on the State Department’s public list,” the letter said.
A lawyer for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a representative for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.
The committee has asked the National Archives to provide all applicable documentation and communications regarding gifts received by Trump and his family members from January 2020 to January 2021 by June 20.
This challenge of accounting for gifts is particularly evident for the year 2020 where the State Department’s Office of Protocol did not receive a complete list of foreign gifts received by the White House, which is the typical process.
The letter also said that “the Office of the Head of Protocol failed to request a list of foreign gifts received in 2020 from the White House.”
Now, due to media reporting, the department is aware that some gifts are missing.
“For example, during President Trump’s visit to India in February 2020, he received a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a marble replica of Gandhi’s ‘Three Monkeys’ statue, and a spinning wheel among other gifts,” the letter said. Is.
According to the letter signed by Speaker Carolyn Maloney, the State Department is trying to track down the missing information, but it does not have access to all the necessary records.
According to a senior State Department official, the state has done everything possible, trying to identify issues so that this complication does not happen again, and shared its findings with Hill.
The letter cites an explanation provided by the State Department that the National Archives and the General Services Administration are able to access material from the Executive Office of the President and Vice President, which the State Department cannot, which responds to missing gifts. could.
Laws, including those that place limits on foreign gifts accepted by U.S. officials, are designed to ensure that members of an outgoing administration cannot be accepted by other governments while in office or on their departure. are not inappropriately affected.
A US official cannot legally accept a personal gift from a foreign source of more than $415, the committee notes.
The General Services Administration (GSA) collects foreign gifts to members of the President or President’s family who work for the U.S. government and requires the State Department to publish a comprehensive list of gifts from foreign governments to government employees and their families, including the President. it occurs. and Vice President, every year.
But State Department officials said they were unable to provide a full list for 2020, when Trump was still in office, because the department had not gathered all the necessary information about the gifts from the White House. By law the White House must share that information with the State Department along with the value of each gift reported by the White House Gift Office, but they did not share that information in 2020.
State Department officials also told the Oversight Committee that they still cannot be fully responsible for foreign gifts the Trump administration received during the former president’s final year, in part due to problems during the transition and the Trump administration’s repercussions. Due to record keeping issues during ,
According to a top State Department official who briefed the committee last month and made public reporting, Trump officials, including family members of the former president, took possession of items in the range of tens of thousands of dollars each placed – expressing concern that there are potentially more things missing that cost the same, if not more. According to the State Department, other gifts, such as a rare $5,800 worth of whiskey gifted to the then Secretary of State, Pompeo, went missing.
Last year, Pompeo’s lawyer, William Burke, told The Wall Street Journal that the former secretary of state “had no memory of receiving the bottle of whiskey and had no idea what happened to it.”
Traditionally, gifts to a president abroad and gifts to a secretary of state are eventually given to the State Department for storage in the gift vault, before the gifts go to the GSA if they are worth more than $415. Huh. But a further complication is that State Department officials told the Congressional Committee that the Trump administration’s accounting of the “vault” was left in “complete disarray.”