First on CNN: House Democrats investigate disappearance of foreign gifts to Trump

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The committee says it has received information from the State Department that “indicates that the Trump administration ‘has not prioritized this duty’ and failed to comply with the law that governs foreign gift reporting during of President Trump’s last year in office,” the letter said.

“As a result, the foreign sources and monetary value of the gifts received by President Trump remain unknown,” he adds. “The State Department also said it was unable to determine the identity 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 Trump and his family members received during the former president’s tenure.

The inquiry is a new effort by Democrats to use their congressional authority to investigate potential violations of federal records and ethics laws during 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 endangered the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, and as to possible violations of the Constitutional Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the president from obtaining benefits from foreign entities while in office,” the committee’s letter reads.

“Public records indicate that President Trump accepted several gifts from foreign sources in 2020, but these gifts do not appear on the State Department’s public list as required by law,” 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 asked the National Archives to provide all applicable documents and communications about gifts Trump and his family members received from January 2020 to January 2021 by June 20.

Challenge

This gift accounting challenge is especially pronounced for the year 2020 where the State Department’s Office of Protocol has not obtained a complete list of foreign gifts the White House has received, which is typical procedure.

The letter also notes that “the Office of the Chief of Protocol did not request from the White House a list of foreign gifts received in 2020.”

Now, due to media reportsthe department knows that some gifts are missing.

“For example, during President Trump’s visit to India in February 2020, he received a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, a marble replica of Gandhi’s ‘Three Monkeys’ statue, and a spinning wheel, among other gifts,” says the letter.

The State Department has attempted to locate the missing information, but it does not have access to all the necessary documents, according to the letter, signed by President Carolyn Maloney.

According to a senior State Department official, the state did all it could, tried to identify the issues so this complication wouldn’t happen again, and shared its findings with the Hill.

The letter explains, citing an explanation given by the Department of State, that the National Archives and General Services Administration can access records from the Executive Office of the President and Vice President that the Department of State cannot, which might provide answers about missing gifts.

These laws, including those that limit foreign gifts that U.S. officials can accept, are put in place to ensure that members of an outgoing administration are not inappropriately influenced by other governments, whether during their mandate or after their departure.

A US official cannot legally accept a personal gift from a foreign source over $415, the committee notes.

The General Services Administration (GSA) collects foreign gifts to a president or a president’s family members who work for the U.S. government, and the Department of State is required to publish a complete list of gifts from foreign governments to government employees and their families, including the President and Vice President, each 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 from the White House. on gifts. By law, the White House is supposed to share this information with the State Department, along with the value of each gift as informed by the White House Gifts Office, but they have not shared this information in 2020.

State Department officials also told the oversight committee they still could not fully account for the foreign gifts the Trump administration received during the former president’s last year in office, in part. due to transition issues and record keeping issues during the Trump administration. .

According to a senior State Department official who briefed the committee last month and public reports, Trump officials, including family members of the former president, retained possession of items from a worth tens of thousands of dollars, raising concerns that there are potentially more missing items that are worth as much, if not more. Other gifts, such as a rare whiskey worth $5,800 given to then-Secretary of State Pompeo, have gone missing, according to the State Department.

Last year, Pompeo attorney William Burck said The Wall Street Journal that the former Secretary of State had “no memory of ever receiving the bottle of whiskey and has no knowledge of what happened to it”.

Traditionally, gifts a President receives while traveling abroad and gifts for the Secretary of State are ultimately turned over to the Department of State for storage in a safe before the gifts are sent. to the GSA if they are worth more than $415. But another complexity is that State Department officials told the congressional committee that the Trump administration’s “trunk” accounting was left in “complete disarray.”

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