Swords, golf clubs and cuff links: House Democrats accuse Donald Trump of failing to document foreign gifts

WASHINGTON – Swords from Saudi Arabia, a model of the Taj Mahal from India and a gold golf driver from Japan are among foreign gifts Donald Trump received as president but failed to report, House Democrats alleged Friday.

Trump and his family failed to report more than 100 gifts worth more than a combined $250,000 to the State Department from 2017 through 2019, according to an inspector general’s report. Another report in April 2022 found the department couldn’t fully account for gifts received in 2020, the final year of the former president's administration.

In releasing the findings, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, warned that if presidents didn’t report valuable gifts they receive in office, foreigners could influence U.S. policy.

The General Services Administration and National Archives and Records Administration are supposed to track the gifts reported through the State Department, which the report says didn't happen.

“Today’s preliminary findings suggest again the Trump Administration’s brazen disregard for the rule of law and its systematic mishandling of large gifts from foreign governments, including many lavish personalized gifts that vastly exceed the statutory limit in value, but were never reported – some that are still missing today,” Raskin said.

A Trump spokesman, Steven Cheung, disputed the report’s findings.

“Pathetic losers like Jamie Raskin – who has been reduced to a low-level political player – and House Democrats are working with their Deep State accomplices at NARA to lie about the facts,” Cheung said. “They know many items were received either before or after the administration.”

Former President Donald Trump stands on the course during the ProAm of the LIV Golf Team Championship at Trump National Doral Golf Club on Thursday, Oct. 27/
Former President Donald Trump stands on the course during the ProAm of the LIV Golf Team Championship at Trump National Doral Golf Club on Thursday, Oct. 27/

What are the gifts?

Committee Democrats reported a variety of gifts to Trump and his family that lawmakers claim were reported to the State Department, but then not bought by the recipient or turned over to government agencies.

The gifts Democrats said the agencies couldn’t locate or find receipts for included:

  • From Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates: items worth more than a combined $45,000, including three to Trump and one to his wife, Melania. The gifts included a $24,000 Saudi dagger and two sword sets worth $8,800.

  • From El Salvador: a “larger-than-life-sized” painting of Trump.

  • From Japan: a $3,755 gold golf driver from when Trump was president-elect in November 2016 and other golf clubs later, including a putter valued at $460 and another driver valued at $3,040.

  • From India: 17 items worth a combined $47,000 including an $8,500 vase, a $4,600 model of the Taj Mahal and $1,900 cuff links.

Tucker Carlson, left, and former President Donald Trump, talk while watching golfers on the 16th tee during the final round of the LIV Golf Invitational at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., July 31, 2022. A defamation lawsuit against Fox News is revealing blunt behind-the-scenes opinions by its top figures about Donald Trump, including a Tucker Carlson text message where he said “I hate him passionately.” Carlson's private conversation was revealed in court papers at virtually the same time as the former president was hailing the Fox News host on social media for a “great job” for using U.S. Capitol security video to produce a false narrative of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) ORG XMIT: WX101

What was supposed to be reported?

The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act requires disclosure of all gifts over a minimal value to the president, vice president and their families. The White House compiles the list and provides it to the State Department, which publishes an annual list.

The government typically holds on to the gifts unless the recipients buy them. For example, General Services Administration records show Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who was also a senior adviser, bought five Saudi gifts.

But committee Democrats say the White House requested the National Archives return a number of foreign gifts. The archives had no record of other gifts, according to the report.

Raskin sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken a letter Friday asking for help investigating the gifts.

"The Administration’s failure to disclose foreign gifts to former President Trump and his family raises questions about whether these and other gifts may have been used by foreign governments to influence U.S. policy," Raskin said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump failed to report foreign gifts as president: Democrats